Sadler Vampire

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Dana

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Been mentioned a few times before here, but nothing really substantial: Does anybody know anything useful about the Sadler Vampire? I mean the original US ultralight version, not the later Oz 2-seater. I have an opportunity to buy one (a restoration project) for probably a ridiculously low price, but I know very little about them, except that I've always been fascinated by the design.

I do know that there were only 36 made, factory, no kits or plans. This one has the original Solo 210 engine, same as on my paramotor, and has passed through several owners who never flew it. Quick folding wings, and a factory trailer.

Probably not a good choice for the rough 1800' (with trees) grass strip I'm based at now, but hey, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

There is a yahoo group, but precious little information about the design's flying qualities, or structural issues (if any).



-Dana

I'm from the IRS. The government has spent all your tax money. Could we please have some more?
 

PTAirco

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250 lbs empty? With a conventional, skinned, sheet metal wing; cantilever and folding no less - that is impressive, if correct.
I'd buy it just to examine the construction. Oh, and to weigh it.
 

autoreply

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250 lbs empty? With a conventional, skinned, sheet metal wing; cantilever and folding no less - that is impressive, if correct.
I'd buy it just to examine the construction. Oh, and to weigh it.
Sparrowhawk
155 lbs, 300 lbs payload, jet engine possible, even a BRS, with a good construction, amazing things are possible.

It's just that stall (32 kts) is a bit too high for a powered aircraft as is cruise speed (100 kts with jet engine)
 

Dana

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PTAirco, the Hummer Ultracruiser is also all metal and under 254, so it can be done. I talked to one owner, he's scrupulous about keeping his legal because it doesn't look like an ultralight.

Yep, seen both those sites. There was apparently an issue with the tail boom (or the tail boom attach brackets in the wings). This plane has the tail off, but booms still attached to the wings... I don't know why.

-Dana

Black holes are where God is dividing by zero.
 

Bart

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How about buy that Vampire for cheap, and then:

1. Change horizontal stabilizer to tips of vertical fins, for inverted U tail? (Less interference drag, moves hor. stab aft for more control authority for less surface area so you need less of it, and acts as endplate for vertical fins, enhancing them, too. Keeps horizontal stab/elevator out of the dirt.)

2. Retractable gear? (Adds some weight maybe, but reduces drag, bigtime mo sexy. Maybe tail wheels at tips of booms, main gear a la sailplane, retractable at centerline?)

3. Fugetabout UL status and live with LSA status, crank up cruise speed. B&S 4 cycle engine? Davis DA-11 gets >100mpg with 20 hp B&S, cruising @ 125+, so why not this plane, which has better lines? Yes, 4 cycle weighs more than 2 cycle, but is so much less thirsty that you don't need to haul extra fuel weight, meaning 4 cycle all-up cross country weight may be actually less than 2 cycle weight.
 

Dana

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Naw, I'm not interested in significant mods or a redesign project right now... and I'm enjoying the freedom of Part 103 too much to have an airplane with numbers on it unless it was a 2 seater.

-Dana

To Be Old And Wise You Must First Be Young And Stupid
 

autoreply

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3. Fugetabout UL status and live with LSA status
Well, there are plenty of reasons not to. In fact, THE big attraction of this design is that it's a "real" aircraft, qualified as ultralight. The very fact that you don't have to obey those endless regulations (and the price is much lower) is motivation enough.
That accounts for points 1 and 2 as well.

If you want an LSA, there's no point in not going 2-place, like the bigger Vampire did. This is in fact the major risk for any designer. "Improve" it, till you've fiddled so much with it that you've spoiled your original goals and basically have an inferior design.
 

BBerson

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The original Sadler Vampire employed .012" wing skin, I think. The lightened metal ribs are visible in the photo. I think the skin was installed with sticky tape and pop rivets.
 

GlassVampire

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Which # are you looking at buying? The Vampire has always been my favorite ultralight (see my profile name!) . If I was you, I'd take it. You can always sell it as a project if you decide you don't want to work on it. I used to have alot of info and pictures about it on my old computer but sadly it died on me a few weeks ago.
Hey if you pass on the deal, maybe pass it on ;) I'd gladly take on that challenge.
 

craig saxon

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I'm pretty sure that the original single place vampire was designed in Australia. I met the designer at an Australian airshow in the 80s. They were being built in oz as well. I got the info pack and subscribed to the newsletter at the time. All thats in a box somewhere, I'll see if I can find it for you Dana. I'd be extremely jealous, they were a great little airplane.
Craig
 

GlassVampire

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Thats correct, the original was built in Australia. There was also a military version called the Piranha, orginally for Turkey I think. It was to carry a 30mm gun. If I remember correct the license to build the US Ultralight version was bought by a US company, but they weren't successful and folded quite a while ago. There aren't any plans available (unfortunately!), so if you are going to rebuild/restore it you'll have to rely on your knowledge and other Vampire owners. I'd contact one and try to get as many pictures as possible, or better yet an on-site inspection.
Here is a link to the Piranha documentation, its a PDF so right click and save as: http://www.sadlerair.com/piranhaman.pdf

Heres a link with a few pireps: http://www32.brinkster.com/jackzk1/

I don't know why it never caught on in the US, its such a great little design, my all-time ultralight favorite. If you do decide to restore it please please please post lots of pictures! I hope to have one some day :)
 

Dana

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Actually my understanding (I could be wrong) is that the US ultralight was the original version, designed here by Bill Sadler, then the design was sold to the Australian company.

I still haven't contacted the owner yet, but I will.

-Dana

"The difference between death and taxes is death doesn't get worse every
time Congress meets." -- Will Rogers
 

craig saxon

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I've finally found my vampire info pack and newsletters from the Australian manufacturers in the 1980s.I was wrong, Dana is correct, the vampire was originally designed in the US. I quote from a letter from Doug Kewley, managing director of Skywise Ultraflight, the Australian manufacturer, dated June 5 1986,
" Based substantially on the original Sadler Vampire designed and built in the United States by Bill Sadler, the Australian version is a significantly improved aircraft in many respects. All aluminium sheet (including wing spar components, ribs, control surfaces and wing skins) has been upgraded from .012" to .016" thickness, the pod is now monocoque construction Kevlar enhancing strength, durability and performance, the engine is now 30 hp, wingspan has been reduced to 22 ' for manoeuvrability and speed, the undercarriage has been lengthened and made stronger , control systems have been redesigned, instrumentation upgraded and standardized, a cockpit adjustable elevator installed, together with a host of other modifications of a more minor nature. The quality of the finished product product has also been considerably improved: machine pressed components, extensive jig forming, and an intensive program of quality control in our Milperra factory, all combine with skilled tradesmen to produce machines of superlative quality."

I've got quite a lot of info here so if anyone is interested, I'll scan it and post it.
Craig
 

craig saxon

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I've finally found my vampire info pack and newsletters from the Australian manufacturers in the 1980s.I was wrong, Dana is correct, the vampire was originally designed in the US. I quote from a letter from Doug Kewley, managing director of Skywise Ultraflight, the Australian manufacturer, dated June 5 1986,
" Based substantially on the original Sadler Vampire designed and built in the United States by Bill Sadler, the Australian version is a significantly improved aircraft in many respects. All aluminium sheet (including wing spar components, ribs, control surfaces and wing skins) has been upgraded from .012" to .016" thickness, the pod is now monocoque construction Kevlar enhancing strength, durability and performance, the engine is now 30 hp, wingspan has been reduced to 22 ' for manoeuvrability and speed, the undercarriage has been lengthened and made stronger , control systems have been redesigned, instrumentation upgraded and standardized, a cockpit adjustable elevator installed, together with a host of other modifications of a more minor nature. The quality of the finished product product has also been considerably improved: machine pressed components, extensive jig forming, and an intensive program of quality control in our Milperra factory, all combine with skilled tradesmen to produce machines of superlative quality."

I've got quite a lot of info here so if anyone is interested, I'll scan it and post it.
Craig
 

HumanPoweredDesigner

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Looks just like Mark's plane, except the center of drag, center of thrust, and center of mass are all on the same line, and it is faired, and the prop is smaller as a result of the wing being lower. Probably a different airfoil, aspect ratio, and structure though.
 

HumanPoweredDesigner

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2. Retractable gear? (Adds some weight maybe, but reduces drag, bigtime mo sexy. Maybe tail wheels at tips of booms, main gear a la sailplane, retractable at centerline?)
I think you have to have a pilot's license to fly a plane with retractable landing gear. You could put wheel pants on them though.

I'd want that airplane to have open sides on its cockpit. If done right the drag might not go up that much, and it would even be a bit lighter, and a much better view.
 

Bart

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I think you have to have a pilot's license to fly a plane with retractable landing gear. You could put wheel pants on them though.

I'd want that airplane to have open sides on its cockpit. If done right the drag might not go up that much, and it would even be a bit lighter, and a much better view.
That's why there is chocolate, vanilla, and lots of other flavors. Each is a compromise, and what's most desirable for you may not be for me or Fred, and vice versa.

That said, the ultralight rules in the US mean the government effectively does not consider such a plane to be a plane, and as long as you follow their airspace rules the feds pretty much won't bother you. They also won't do much of any structural or other safety inspections or controls, so you are basically on your own. I'm not sure what that means for insurance or for flying to and through other countries like Canada.

A light sport aircraft, otoh, meets minimal requirements, but then can legally fly much faster and farther than an ultralight. It could be a good and inexpensive cross-country airplane that could take off and land virtually anywhere, given its low stall and takeoff/landing speed. Cross-country flying out of your back yard?

An established design like the Vampire has pretty good aerodynamic efficiency. After almost 30 years, I assume it to be a well understood and pretty safe design. So, if one were to accept the additional LSA and/or experimental rules and (in effect) quality controls, for not much more effort it could probably fly about twice as fast without sacrificing much if any low speed stall and landing capacity. There appears to be room in the pod to house retractable gear, or simple fairings along the twin tail booms might work for a simple KR-1 style pivot retraction. If retaining the fixed gear, wheel pants and streamlined legs would be a cheap, easy, light, and quick reduction in drag.

The ~165 lb. and 100+ mpg Davis DA-11 goes about twice as fast as Vampire, with similar power. DA-11 has less wing area, but also has probably more fuselage drag. This causes me to wonder what would happen to a Vampire if it were cleaned up aerodynamically by retracting the gear, etc.. It would be interesting to spend some time discussing this with, say, Bruce Carmichael.

If one were to buy a good used Vampire inexpensively, one could have lots of cheap fun flying it as an ultralight, at the same time upgrading and modifying it to LSA status, making a more versatile aircraft in the process.
 
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BBerson

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LSA rules do not allow retractable gear.
An ultralight can have retracts.... but the speed limit is 63mph.

So, that leaves: 'amateur built experimental category' where retractable gear is allowed. But of course, a pilot certificate higher than Light Sport is also required, along with a current medical.
 
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