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Author Topic: So, you want to fly...  (Read 2243 times)
19th Century Space Pilot
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« on: March 05, 2010, 10:40:27 pm »

There are a couple opf threads floating about the boards regarding personal flight, one focusing on lighter than air flight, the other on gyrocopters. So I reckoned I'd create a thread to brainstorm concepts for getting off the ground on a shoestring budget.

One idea I've been focusing on recently is a hybrid airship, filled with either Hydrogen or Helium, depending on what  can get away with. It would be small - around 8-10m long, twin cylindrical balloons, 4m diameter - and have electric powered rotors at each corner (one at each end of the balloons), giving me a) additional lift, but more importantly, b) the capability to vector my craft in every direction for turning, by merely increasing power to the relevant rotors, and c) aid landings, since the whole craft will be good ol' heavier than air. The drawback to this plan is the need to find a plot of land,however if I can find one I'll go for it. After all, the hanger can be above my workshop...

Another idea is a microlight. This would have fold in wings, as well as a fold up tail. I'm thinking perhaps tent poles could be used to stiffen the wings. You know, the carbon fiber ones that have an elastic cord running through them. This has the advantage of using off the shelf materials, as well as being able to package everything down into the fuselage, which can then be loaded onto a trailer and returned to the garage. It has the disadvantage of lacking VTOL capability, but I live on the west coast, so there's plenty of flat sands to launch on...

Chime in, folks. I welcome your criticism ideas.
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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2010, 10:57:04 pm »

Build a biplane!

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WillRockwell
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2010, 01:42:52 pm »

We often discuss airship ideas, and fortunately they all stay on the ground. If you want to actually fly, my recommendation is to purchase a creative looking "vintage" ultralite like this. Flying is dangerous enough without the added risk of an aircraft that is poorly designed or constructed. This particular plane, a used Easy Riser, is for sale, only $1800.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2010, 01:44:35 pm by WillRockwell » Logged

johnny99
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« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2010, 04:42:57 am »

first off, define shoestring budget.  Secondly consider for a moment that your contraption actually works, and you suddenly find yourself climbing into the sky. soaring rapidly past the point where a structural failier will result in your DEATH! And the thought suddenly pushes itself to the front of your brain that HOLLY HELL!! I'VE BUILT THIS THING OUT OF RUBISH!!!
     The reason I know, is because i've actually done it. About ten years ago a friend and i built a standard Rogallo wing hang glider out of bamboo and visqueen plastic, which i subsequently flew(briefly) by putting on a pair of rollerblades and holding onto a rope while my friend towed me down the road in his jeep. Fortunately I survived, You're milage may vary Wink.
     The moral of the story, is that unless your goal is a darwin award and not to fly. When you talk about cutting costs your talking reduced preformance, NOT reduced structural integrity by using tent poles.
     On the subject of your hybrid design I think I get what your going for, but I can't really see any advantages. But I certainly can see a lot of disadvantages. Now be honest with yourself. Do you really think that this hasn't been considered before?
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19th Century Space Pilot
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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2010, 02:05:32 pm »

Quote
reduced structural integrity by using tent poles.

I don't know what tent poles you use, but the ones I use would be up to the job... they're really just carbon fibre rods, after all. No different to using a carbon fibre rod from another purpose.

Quote
Do you really think that this hasn't been considered before?

No, I don't think that. I know it's been considered, and I imagine someone has probably built a few. In fact, such a system is being developed at the moment for use in heavy lift applications... mine would just be a smaller scale.

Quote
econdly consider for a moment that your contraption actually works, and you suddenly find yourself climbing into the sky. soaring rapidly past the point where a structural failier will result in your DEATH!

That's why I'll cut speed and land, if I chicken out. It helps that I'll fly the thing low at first, about 5m height - over water. My craziness is balanced by rationality. Roll Eyes

Quote
The reason I know, is because i've actually done it. About ten years ago a friend and i built a standard Rogallo wing hang glider out of bamboo and visqueen plastic, which i subsequently flew(briefly) by putting on a pair of rollerblades and holding onto a rope while my friend towed me down the road in his jeep. Fortunately I survived, You're milage may vary Wink.

I was, actually, planning on doing that... really, replace the bamboo with Aluminum or Carbon Fibre, which you can get at any camping store, and you have a hang glider.

I've been considering a wing in ground effec. Would require a smaller wing area, and if I have to bail out I'm doing it a few feet above the ground.
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« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2010, 05:13:08 pm »

Mumble mumble years ago, ok it was 1972, I bought plans for "Hang Loose" the $25 hang glider. I think it cost me closer to $100 to build it. Looked like a Chanute biplane but the wings were covered with plastic instead of fabric. The uprights in the box structure were stuck into bottle caps. It was the cheapest flying machine known to man but it did work if the hill was steep enough or the wind blowing in the right direction. I ran across the plans in a box in the attic last summer so maybe I will build another one of these days. Wings didn't fold but remove a dozen bolts and it broke down into 4 - 14 foot long/ 4 1/2 meter wing panels plus the tail for hauling around on the roof of my car. http://privitt.com/hang_gliding.htm   If that doesn't work try a google search for; "Hang Loose" Jack Lambie

VULA, Vintage Ultralight Association  Hmmm, just checked out the site and it seems most of it doesn't work. A few pictures can still be viewed. Too bad. Some of the stuff there was wonderful.

You might look up; Bug2 Bug4 biplane hanggliders.

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« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2010, 07:03:01 pm »

The science behind flight is not all that complicated. Ok, so it might take some understanding, but it is very well into the realm of the amateur builder. Wing aspect ratio calculations are not exactly rocket science. Also, look at the way early planes were constructed - wood and cloth was all it took to get them airborne. Engine options these day are far more varied than they were in the olden days as well - nobody in his right mind these days would consider building their engine from scratch, like many aviation pioneers had to because nothing else was available to them.

Nor are there any rules stating an ultralight plane has to look hideous. Wood/aluminium framing covered in cloth is not that heavy. No reason not to make an enclosed body, while still meeting the restrictions on size and weight.

I'd say look at the designs of WWI era fighters - then scale it down to ultralight proportions. Should be doable, no?
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CapnHarlock
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« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2010, 09:03:22 pm »

IMHO the best-looking ultralight ever was the enclosed, metal-bodied Australian "Sadler Vampire" from the 1980's.



It DID come in black. Smiley
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19th Century Space Pilot
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« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2010, 09:36:27 pm »

Hmmm. Aircraft would pretty much have to be ultralight, to dodge the regulations.

I'm interested in ultralights that can fold up, because I don't have enough room to store one otherwise.

Quote
Nor are there any rules stating an ultralight plane has to look hideous. Wood/aluminium framing covered in cloth is not that heavy. No reason not to make an enclosed body, while still meeting the restrictions on size and weight.
Hmmm... I wonder if balsa on wood would work? Of course, if you use fabric it would be easier to fold and store.

Unfortunately, I live in the UK, which has more restrctive rules on microlights than the US does.
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19th Century Space Pilot
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« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2010, 09:47:35 pm »

WTFGH? The government wants me to get a license, which would set me back by £2500-3000, in order to fly a device of my own creation?

The entire purpose of the Microlight category is to not have any regulation...
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markf
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2010, 11:38:41 pm »

Hmmm. Aircraft would pretty much have to be ultralight, to dodge the regulations. I'm interested in ultralights that can fold up, because I don't have enough room to store one otherwise.
Quote
Nor are there any rules stating an ultralight plane has to look hideous. Wood/aluminium framing covered in cloth is not that heavy. No reason not to make an enclosed body, while still meeting the restrictions on size and weight.

Hmmm... I wonder if balsa on wood would work? Of course, if you use fabric it would be easier to fold and store. Unfortunately, I live in the UK, which has more restrctive rules on microlights than the US does.

You could get an ultralight hot air balloon to avoid storage issues, either from a manufacturer or used on eBay (I sold mine there and I've seem decent used ones for as low as $3k USD). markf
http://www.apexballoons.com/ultralights/
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« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2010, 10:49:47 am »

IMHO the best-looking ultralight ever was the enclosed, metal-bodied Australian "Sadler Vampire" from the 1980's.



It DID come in black. Smiley


Wow! Albeit not very steamy, that does look really good! Grin
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« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2010, 07:50:12 pm »

IMHO the best-looking ultralight ever was the enclosed, metal-bodied Australian "Sadler Vampire" from the 1980's.



It DID come in black. Smiley


Wow! Albeit not very steamy, that does look really good! Grin


Mhm, very Crimson Skies Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2010, 09:23:00 pm »

I'd be happy with just hang gliding Smiley
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19th Century Space Pilot
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« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2010, 06:08:41 pm »

Hmmm... does a powered hang glider still fit in the 'foot launch' category?
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johnny99
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« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2010, 07:39:49 pm »

Hmmm... does a powered hang glider still fit in the 'foot launch' category?
I'm not familiar with the British laws for such things, but i would guess it does. you should be aware though, that  anything you can pick up and run with to launch, is probably going to be    A. Of pretty limited power, and B. have a really short powered flight time due to fuel weight. I.e. either launch it and ascend on thermals like a conventional hanglider, then use power to extend flight time. Or powered ascent and glide down.
     FWIW, you should really check into powered parasails. They really are probably your best option/compromise  for a light weight, footlaunchable, cheap, reliable, near VTOL, personal flying machine.
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« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2010, 08:08:06 pm »

My personal opinion is that a proven ultralight design, either fixed-wing or gyrocopter, would have the best chance of becoming a reality.

Airships are fun to think about, but there are tons of practical difficulties and expenses that make them sort of unrealistic. Hydrogen and helium aren't easy to come by, and will most likely exceed your budgetary constraints.

If you really want to get something lighter-than-air going on a shoestring budget, you could mess around with a few designs that use nothing more complicated than warmth from the sun, garbage bags, and masking tape. Build a large enough one of these and you could probably lift someone, even just a short distance for fun.
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« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2010, 08:19:53 pm »

Quote
If you really want to get something lighter-than-air going on a shoestring budget, you could mess around with a few designs that use nothing more complicated than warmth from the sun, garbage bags, and masking tape. Build a large enough one of these and you could probably lift someone, even just a short distance for fun.
     Nahhh.  I recon you could do a one shot cluster balloon rig for a couple hundred bucks. Using lye and aluminium to generate hydrogen, toy balloons, and a spool of paracord.  Safety, and sanity not withstanding ofcourse. Wink
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