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Mar 01, 2010, 04:33 PM
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I just built and maidened 1st sailplane....

Well I asked all of you for ideas on 1st sailplane to lots of answers as I was primarily intending to thermal and occasionally in light wind fly off a couple of rocky lumps that pass for mountains here in Yuma AZ. I was going to go ahead an buy a Bird of Time, then the Yuma Aeromodelers went and had a "swapmeet" and I bought a glider kit for a ridiculously cheap price and went home happy and content . A few days later when i opened the box, I found I should have looked things over a lot more.....there was one half of a fuse in die or laser cut parts....the wing plans cut in two....and some huge 1/4" aircraft ply.......and a bunch of sheets of balsa...some sig some GP some.....well you get the point.
So i sat there and stared at it for a good long while, and my wife LOL at me .
Then I realized there really was a plane in this box I just had to design it and cut it all out myself and so the process began.........please remember I have never build a glider in my life, nor handled one before..... -.-

So after reading a huge amount of stuff on airfoils....I made a pattern and cut one out,,,,,looked at it, and proceeded to make 39 more of them. I really have appreciation now for the people who make planes from scratch w/o plans or anything else to start with. Then I made sure that all the ribs were the exact same size by stacking them and sanding them as a group. and then I put the stack on my drill press and put about a 1/4" hole all the way through the entire stack so i could insert the carbon fiber arrow shaft that I intended to use as a full length spar in each wing,,, and used a 4" piece of carbon fiber tube whose inner diameter was the same as the outter diameter of the arrow shafts as a joiner.and proceeded to make a 72" wing with D tube construction. it was about the time that I joined the two halfs that I realized I forgot to add in dihedral and that since I had opted for R/E only control this was gonna be an issue. So at that point I added polyhedral wingtips for a total span of 96". It was so light compared to other wings that I have built from powered kits.
I sat and stared at this wing for an hr or so....and dreamed up a simple fuse to build and built it up as a square tapered structure. Then as I was just getting happy I realized that none of my normal batteries was going to fit in it, and I needed to make a larger cockpit area, not wanting to do anything normal or rebuild the fuse I opted to make a smoothly flared extendtion for the nose area. It came out looking kind of like a rattlesnakes head. Then I drew up and built a stab and rudder, and opted to put two micro servos at the tail so as to have as short a control rods as possible and because I like short linkages. Then I sat and starred at the fuse and wing for a good while and finally decided that for it's maiden flights it would have the wing rubber band mounted....and not being at all sure of exactly where I wished to place the wing I made coat hanger rubber band holders and made the wing adjustable so I could search for the perfect position prior to making a proper saddle area for it.

Anyhow the maiden flight was made sunday, it was short and simple with no frills really just a glide test. With a soft toss (couldnt even call it a throw) it sailed over 140ft before touching down into a 2 mph headwind. With my arms raised over my head it was 7.5ft above ground to start with. That's like a 18.6 to 1 glide ratio...keep in mind I had to lose a couple feet to get the speed up so that it flew.

Anyhow I'll post pics when I get home, it looks kind of different. and I'm not sure if the glide ratio decent enough, but i'm gonna get a real flight on it this week, at the latest this weekend.

Thanks for listening to me ramble....I'm really rather proud of it regardless of the effficiency as I designed built and flew it in less than 2 days from scratch.

Let me know what ya think.....I got so thrilled watching a plane float along like that, I think I am addicted to the whole sailplane thing and haven't even gotten my feet wet yet.

Last edited by ONERCBOATER; Mar 01, 2010 at 04:37 PM. Reason: needed to add stuff
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Mar 01, 2010, 04:41 PM
LSF303-AMA Fellow
tkallev's Avatar

It's addicting, isn't it?


Congratulations on the maiden of your OD aircraft.

Welcome to the club!


Mar 01, 2010, 04:51 PM
planepainter's Avatar
Sean, yes please post some pics. Now that you have taken the plunge you will learn a lot and have many great hours building and flying.
I am about to launch into rebuilding a new fuse for my Spirit 2 meter but it will look nothing like the one that came in the kit! I will be fun to pull this off and I think the plane will fly better for it.

Mar 01, 2010, 07:55 PM
Registered User
Nothing quite like seeing your first OD take to the air, and as tk says, you've gone and done it now, no turning back
Mar 02, 2010, 01:02 AM
Registered User
well as promised it is different looking, and I personally think interesting....thought i was gonna get to fly off slope today....but the nice steady wind this AM died completely by the time I got off work...go figure

yes that is my little helper who I convinced to sit next to the plane rather than try to ride it, that cost me 1 graham cracker. I tell ya he is an extorsionist

and yes that is a prop jet to the right of one of the pics....this afternoons 2hr project waiting for wife and kid to get home.

oh and the funky landing gear is mounted to a plate that is held under the wing clamp and is there until I figure out how she I have to land on rocks or road.....this is the desert. they are completely temporary

And yes the rudder is offcenter....seems a 2yr old decided to kick it....and yes that is a hole in the wing tip....i got a lil happy with the heat gon and will have to put a patch on it.
Last edited by ONERCBOATER; Mar 02, 2010 at 01:05 AM. Reason: forgot something
Mar 02, 2010, 07:46 AM
founder of the SSP
Steve Boone's Avatar
I like it because it's different. Congratulations on the maiden as well. I think it's always more fun to fly something you built yourself. When you catch your first thermal with it, it will all be over. Well, except for the credit card bill.
Mar 02, 2010, 01:11 PM
Registered User
well i learned a lot from this build.
A) after looking at a huge amount of airfoils.....narrow it down to the popular choices or create your own....but don't make it hard on yourself just do it.

B) cutting our ribs isn't as bad as I had imagined it to be.

C) do whenever possible remember that with no ailerons you need to add dihedral at the begining in the middle of the wing and you wont have to add funny looking poly tips. (though an old time who is a good friend assures me that long narrow flat bottom no dihedral winds with small poly tips provide the best lift)

D) you can build a sail plane in about a day if no one disturbs you and you have all the materials at hand.

E) It is incredibly rewarding to fly something that is your own creation....even if your friends tell you it looks funny...(cause when it floats by they can't help but ooooooh and aaaaahhh lol)

F) my name is Sean and I am now a sail plane addict and there is no hope of recovery

G) not really sure that I ever want another arf after this between foamy electrics and wood sailplanes and most likely a gasoline B 25 in the future....who needs an arf....

I also want to say thank you to all the sailplane nuts that have posted so many threads in here that I felt ready to take this project on, and for all those little suggestions in the threads that pop into my head when I am working...sometimes I actually go back to find out who made the suggestions.....YOU GUYS ROCK

thats all for now....if i can find a friend to come along and take pics I will get photos of the flight from the top of one of the lil mountains may be the day....there is a steady light if i am lucky it will hold till work is over today.

looking at many pictures of 2 and 3 channel sailplanes it has come to my attention that I may not get enough coupling effect with my rudder, so I am going to extend the rudder by about 3 times this afternoon and find out what happens.....I think I would rather chance a little drag than not have the ability to roll and turn when needed.... there is about 5hr before I get off work...if anyone agrees or disagree with this please let me know.

Last edited by ONERCBOATER; Mar 02, 2010 at 01:26 PM. Reason: adding something
Mar 04, 2010, 03:16 AM
Registered User
ok 2 days of attempted flights on it....
yesterday was 2mph wind coming up the hill, she floated on that....I had elevator control but rudder wouldnt funtion

Today 5mph up the hill had a little rudder control.....ran into rocky hill

Tomorrow 100w motor and 8x4 prop fixed on nose....i believe the problem with rudder was low airspeed causing no real airflow over rudder hence no control.......working out how to add ailerons.....has anyone tried a split elevator working as elevons working in concert with rudder?

Ideas please.....she is rock stable, self leveling and floats like i never seen I was adding weight and had almost 10oz added to the bird tying to get it to move fast enough to get rudder to work and was beginning to see some action...figureing since the lil motor and thge 8x4 prop cause it try to turn in my hand it should work in the sky tomorrow.
The other idea i had is putting a block under wing to raise wing higher and therefore increase coupling effect.

have a good day and ty in advance for any suggestions.
Mar 04, 2010, 09:08 AM
The King Moonracer of balsa.
Windependence's Avatar
The main issue you are running into is lack of dihedral. You either need to add some ailerons or put some dihedral into the main section of the wing. It is the dihedral in the wing of a RE plane that allows it to turn. There are a number of threads here that go into the physics of how that works so I will spare you the details here.

I am glad to hear how well it glides. Very nicely done.

Mar 04, 2010, 09:30 PM
Registered User
well flew it right at sunset.....
wind died down and i have to say u still dont like flying when the planes become nothing but a sillouette.
With power on I was able to turn as I had anticipated. funny that an 8x4 and 100w would pull her up without a problem.
However it was not the best flight and I concede ......ailerons are told me so. I will have them cut out before bed tonight.

Mar 05, 2010, 07:38 PM
I need some building time in t
scaflock's Avatar
Cool little plane ya came up with there Sean! I hate it when people at swap-meets pull the kind of stuff that they did on you. It makes it so people don't want to take part in them which hurts everyone in the hobby. But that you were able to make lemon-aide out of the lemon they sold you is very resourceful on your part.

I've been building and flying sailplanes off and on since the mid 70s and have seen a lot of designs come and go. Even so, I don' think there is any better feeling when something you've designed and built with your hands takes to the air for the first time.

My current project is a re-design of the old Merlyn XC. Just about 8 sq/in less area but a 16ft span in it. Full house D-tube wing and enough strength in the wings for some mild aerobatics if the mood strikes me.
Mar 05, 2010, 09:09 PM
I addressed this sluggish turning response issue in the Sophisticated Lady thread.
In it I explained an easy way to increase the dihedral effect by adding some simple sheet foam winglets. This method works very well and I've done it dozens of times.
You can transform a slug into a ballerina in a matter of minutes.
Mar 15, 2010, 03:02 PM
Registered User
dayhead, i'll have to research your post lol ty
As for the current situation, I cut in ailerons and wow what a difference, I also went to the dark side and added a small brushless so that I wouldnt have to wait for wind and could power out of noobie mistakes (good thing too as I kept forgetting I had to conserve energy lol)
I have to make a repair on the wing this week as I got the silly idea of a lil loop and the D tube portion cracked, lucky me I put CF arrow shafts in both wings as it allowed me to limp in after the "crackle" sounds and the limp wing. lesson learned (no loops with this wing) all in all it has been ummm very educational and I am going to build a new one from a kit when I finish my current project that seems to be taking up an entire room (flybaby bipe) I didn't realize it was going to be such a big bird lol.

I am now sure more than ever that there will always be a sailplane in my fleet as there is something special about floating along with no power input ......very relaxing and it just amuses me to no end.

Oh and before I cracked the wind I caught my 1st thermal......all I can say is OMG it was like it got put on en elevator and zoom up up up up up.....while I tried my best to get down down down lol. I thought thermals were supposed to be small areas. but I barely got her down before the hail began. I have a feeling there was enough power in that thermal that it would have pulled one of my big gassers up if i had been flying them instead....but i would have had the power to pull out of it.

Mar 15, 2010, 10:45 PM
Registered User

First big Thermal!!

Yes, I know EXACTLY what you mean! I recently started flying and have a House of Balsa "2x4" which despite not being overly floaty or known for thermaling, I did hi-start lauch right smack dab into a thermal a few months ago on an exceptional day of breeze, cool air with sudden sunshine making thermals on a small shallow slope-y hill, and it really picked up my plane, it was SOOOOOOO cool! Sorta un-nerving but WAY cool. Congrats! - Paul
Mar 16, 2010, 12:02 AM
planepainter's Avatar
Good to hear it Sean. Always great to maiden a plane that we have built. I can imagine that you can hardly wait to see it way up there. Do you have a hi-start to launch it? Anyway, congrats and happy flying.


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