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Sep 27, 2003, 07:35 PM
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Bubble Dancer

I have heard rumors of a great new sailplane. Its called a Bubble Dancer 120 " or so wingspan a thermal delight.
Does anyone know of this ?
If so where can I get one ?
Are plans avaliable that I could scratch build off of?
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Sep 27, 2003, 07:57 PM
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Join the group for access to the files. In the files you will find a BD folder by Dr. Drela. It has the plans and other useful information. Other BD files have pictures.
Sep 27, 2003, 08:07 PM
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Bubble Dancer

My turn, since my son and I just finished one a few weeks ago.

The Bubble Dancer is an unusually strong but lightweight 3-meter sailplane with excellent penetration ability for a floater. It can easily withstand a full pedal winch launch. Besides using one of Dr. Mark Drela's renouned airfoils, the wing incorporates a top and bottom, double-tapered, carbon laminate-capped spar which is wrapped in Kevlar. Plans built, balsa build up design with laser-cut ribs and webs, composite pod and carbon boom, no kits yet available. A joy to fly, tight circling, and agile enough to thermal very close to the ground. Mark has built his under 32 oz, remarkable for a 3-meter sailplane by any standard, and especially for one that you can put on the winch without worrying about wings failures.

A Yahoo Group called Allegro-Lite is the central place for plans, building instructions & tips, links, and discussion of Dr. Drela's designs, including the BD.

Allegro Lite Group

Mark Miller of Isthmus Models has prepared full sheet plans which you can buy from him--I think they are $25, but ask.

Isthmus Models

It's a scratch build, with the following parts available:
Tailboom (
V-Mount for full-flying stab (Bud Elder, see contact info at Allegro-Lite Group website)
Pod (maybe--check with Bud Elder to see if he has his new mold producing)

Aradhana Singh Khalsa
New Mexico
Sep 27, 2003, 08:19 PM
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ASK's Avatar

BD Picture

Here's a picture of ours...
Sep 28, 2003, 05:29 AM
Proud member of LISF and ESL
The Long Island Silent Flyers, , hosted an Eastern Soaring League contest at our field last weekend. One of the pilots had a Bubble Dancer. It was amazing to watch this plane.

ASK, were you at the event in Syosset NY? The plane there looked exactly like yours.

I can confirm the full power winch launches. The plane looks fragile, but is very strong.

As for the flying character, it seems to float by magic. While other pilots were scrambeling for lift, this pilot seemed to find it automatically, but even when he didn't find lift, the plane didn't seem to need any. It just floated.

It was not a very windy weekend so I can't comment on the penetraion nature of the plane, but in moderate conditions it was beautiful to watch.

On landing, he seemed to be able to come down from height at good speed then bleed of the speed and bring the plane in so slow it was amazing. I don't recall any flaps, just the spoiler in the center section. I believe this is a RES plane.

I was really amazed!

I understand it is a very challenging build, but if you get it right, this plane seems worth the work. I would love to have one, but it is way beyond my building ability. And if someone was selling them, I am sure it would be beyond my budget.
Sep 28, 2003, 08:31 AM
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That was...

That was most likely Mark Drela flying at Syosset. He would've been wearing the highly visible yellow bikers cap. Mark is a very active member of the CRRC and he flys his BD, SG, SGII, and Aegea regularly out of our field in Subury. He regularly specks his BD out by hand launching. More pictures of our weekly fun can be seen here.

Here is a recent pic of Mark and his BD.
Last edited by Fast-Forward; Sep 28, 2003 at 08:47 AM.
Sep 28, 2003, 08:39 AM
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Here is another picture of...

Here is another picture of Mark's BD.
Sep 28, 2003, 08:40 AM
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Fast-Forward's Avatar

and another

The BD man.
Sep 28, 2003, 08:43 AM
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Fast-Forward's Avatar

and another

Mark launching his BD.
Sep 28, 2003, 10:20 AM
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no 's'.
Sep 28, 2003, 02:02 PM
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ASK's Avatar

Great Photos!

Those are great photos of Mark Drelas Bubble Dancer!

Would you consider posting them (others?) on the Allegro-Lite Group? I know most of them aren't on there, leastwise last time I looked.

Here's a picture of our BD off a hand launch.

Aradhana Singh
(p.s. Loved the pictures of your SuperGee mold and pod...)
Sep 28, 2003, 02:38 PM
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ASK's Avatar
As Fast-Forward said, that must have been Mark Drela. We loved his color scheme so much we copied it. Only the graphics are different, and we haven't yet built a pod according to Mark's specification (lighter weight).

After a few flying days so far, we've found the same sort of thing you saw at Syosset, only you were watching the designer fly his own plane.

Floating/penetration: On one of the first flights I put our BD way too far downwind and low. With the encouragment of friends reminding me to keep the nose down, it came back to the field against a 10 mph head wind and across 100+ yards, skimming trees all the way.

You are right, it's a RES, but with an exceptionally large spoiler. On the most recent flight it was out very high and far. With less than 2 minutes to go on the timer, it dived down fast like on rails. At the end with the last few seconds to go, full spoiler disipated all that energy, and hardly moving, gently settled onto the spot. No misbehavior at all, and no worries about folding the wing.

Fun plane!

Aradhana Singh
Sep 28, 2003, 03:19 PM
Registered User
Precision laser cut rib, shear web and leading edge template sets are available from Laser Arts. See:

Tapered carbon fiber spar caps, joiner rods, teflon push rod tubing and, kevlar tow are available from Composite Structures Technology.
Sep 28, 2003, 06:13 PM
Proud member of LISF and ESL
I have only been in this hobby since March, but I have fallen in love with soaring.

I have been to two ESL events hosted by the Long Island Silent Flyers and seen some wonderful planes, but this one, the Bubble Dancer, just took my breath away. I have been thinking about it since I saw it flown so masterfully.

As I understand it, you can't buy it built, you have to build it. It is way beyond my talents. And, if you could buy it built, I am sure I could not afford it.

This will be one of those I will long for for a long long time.
Last edited by aeajr; Sep 28, 2003 at 06:17 PM.
Sep 28, 2003, 11:37 PM
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emersunn's Avatar
Since a couple of people have stated "I would love to have one but it's beyond my capability to build" - could you tell us what skill level is needed to build a BD? What was the most difficult part of building? What was the total cost of materials (not including glues and tools)?

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