OZ report

Excerpts from the OZ report by Davis Straub

Super floating

Who is out there actually flying in FAR Part 103 ultralight gliders this week? There is only one SparrowHawk, so maybe someone is flying that. The LightHawk is still being built. Steve Arndt is repairing his Carbon Dragon in time for the Sailplane Homebuilders Association meeting here at Wallaby Ranch the first of April, and I donít know if Gary got his fixed. That leaves it up to the Superfloater pilots.

I got to say Iím having a blast flying Mike Waterís Superfloater, one of two here at the Wallaby Ranch. There were two in the air today floating around under the 3,500í inversion in blue skies.

So far this thing is extremely easy to fly. I mean unbelievably easy to fly. So far I havenít tried more than a couple of times to stall it and never to spin it, but from what I hear it is hard to do. Weíll see later.

The thing practically flies itself on tow. Sure Iíve had over a 100 aerotows in big sailplanes, but still I just think anyone could fly the thing behind the Dragonfly. Iíve been flying in rowdy air where the tug pilot is complaining and I donít notice the slightest problem.

Thatís the other thing about the Superfloater. It just seems to absorb the turbulence and not transmit anything scary to the pilot. Maybe I havenít hit strong enough air yet (after all this is Florida ). But so far Iím just sitting in a chair that happens to be in the air.

Itís got a very big rudder and youíre supposed to use it to turn about. I havenít got a yaw string on the Supefloater yet, so I canít tell for absolute sure that Iím coordinating my turns, but the wind in my face seems to tell me that Iím doing okay. I should have that string on tomorrow.

Today I had two flights. Pinned off below 800í both times and climbed out. Thermaling was just like I was in a hang glider but with a stick. Late in my second flight (took a second flight after I come down to get more clothes on) I was down to 318 feet working zero and slowly climbing out.

I was worried about flying too slow (23 mph or less) as I hadnít had a lot of experience going real slow, so I kept the speed up Ė 27 mph or so. Still I was able to climb out with Bart on a WW Talon Ė he had marked the thermal for me after pinning off at 400 feet.

I was hanging onto the broken thermal right over the trees and moving the stick and rudders around trying to track the snakey little thing, just like I would in a hang glider. Maybe Iím not too smooth on the controls just yet, but I was able to hang in that baby till Bart and I got out of there. What fun.

There is no cockpit and I donít have a helmet on and Iím sitting right in the wind in a straight back chair. I havenít got use to the wind noise and all the wind hitting me square on yet. I like flying it at less than 30 mph Ė best as slow as possible.

I have thermaled it at 20 mph, and there is still plenty of travel on the stick going back. I have been able to approach stall and felt the wings shudder a bit. Neal says just let Ďem keep shaking and fly slow in the thermal. Nothing will happen. Maybe!

I have got it up around 43 mph. I donít feel comfortable flying that fast, but getting better at it. There is too much wind and noise. The glider shakes a bit up there also, but it doesnít feel dangerous. I just wonder what it takes to rip the wings off. Iíll have to ask.

Iíve got a BRS chute handle right above me. I think Iíll check that out a bit more carefully.

The seat gets a bit uncomfortable after a while. Iíve added another cushion and weíll see how that helps. I came down on my second flight because my butt hurt.

Iíve noticed that the GROB 103 was pretty uncomfortable also. I assume that there are other sailplanes that are more ergonomically designed for pilot comfort Ė I mean at those prices, they had better be.

Apparently all Superfloater pilots mention how uncomfortable it is. The rudder pedals arenít adjustable, so itís one size fits all.

Mike Barber welded up a nice trailer for Mike Waters so I can take it cross country. If cross country conditions improve down here I will soon.

The Superfloater is the only glider in Class O Class 4. The Carbon Dragons donít have leg slots. Looks to me like there are plenty of world records to be set in this aircraft. Perhaps I can get Gary Osoba on it this summer in Zapata. Of course, plenty of world records can be set right here in Florida .

Wouldnít it be great if there was a dual place Superfloater to be used for instruction? Hell of a way to allow hang glider pilots to learn to fly with sticks.

Canít spin that Superfloater

Dave Broyles broyles@pseudospace.com writes:

My personal SuperFloater seems to be impossible to spin; however, a light pilot with a thin seat back might be able to spin it if the CG was back far enough. The adjustment of the CG is done with the thickness of the seat back. The stock seat back is really only suitable for someone of average weight or less. For a pilot of my weight, 195 lb., the thin seat back clearly improves the sink rate.

I did a polar with my Ball Graphic Comp and came up with a min sink of 167 and a max L/D of just about 16/1. This was based on a single run though and may not be real close. I worked a couple of thermals with Mike Degtoff on his new Stealth several years ago, and it seemed that Mike had a few feet per minute on me.

To turn the SF on a wing tip, it is absolutely essential to give opposite aileron to hold up the inside wing. I get a better sink rate thermalling a little faster, eg. 24 mph to 26 mph. I am certain that a yaw string will help flying the SF. I find that it is rather easy to have it crossed a little when not paying attention to the yaw string.

I have hit turbulence that has thrown me around in my SF, but I am pretty sure that the large tail surfaces fairly far from the wing give it a lot of stability.

William Wixon sends in this photo, that I imagine that John Heiney took it.



XC - Super floating

Gary Osoba writes:

My Carbon Dragon is foot launchable with a bomb bay style door in the bottom. It has been foot launched several times, including at the direction of the FAI for an Observer after I had filed for several world records.

Gary I thought it was broken?

Took the Superfloater cross country today up northwest of the Seminole-Lake Gilder port and almost back to Wallaby Ranch. Got a chance to break it down and put it on the absolutely fabulous rack that Mike Barber built for Mike Waters. Belinda and I put it back together in a few minutes with Mike Watersí guidance (he has hurt ribs and although he helped me tear it down in the field, I wanted him to take it easy when we put it back together at Wallaby).

I put an extra cushion on it, but that wasnít enough. This is too uncomfortable to be a real cross country machine. After two hours you are just hurting and hurting. Maybe weíll just put in a plastic chair with a cushion. I remember that I had to really cushion up the Millennium and still it also wasnít comfortable enough for long flights (at least for me).

Isnít it amazing how much more comfortable hang gliding is? Over ten hours in a Carbon Fiber harness from Center of Gravity and a constant force pulley holding my head up. Well, my neck does feel better in the Superfloater.

As I was coming back heading east under a cloud street I was heading for the smoke over a farmerís fire. I could see all the bright flames below burning the old groves, the trees in piles. A great wind indicator and twenty of so hot fires.

I have flown in smoke lots of times here in Florida , so I wasnít paying attention to what the fire was telling me. This was no muck fire, but a really hot fire. As soon as I got in the smoke, the vario pegged, then double pegged and geez I about jumped out of my skin. I banked that baby to the right and got out of there as fast as I could. Iíd been working maybe up to 500 fpm, and this baby was 2,000 fpm.

Unfortunately the fire ate up all the thermals in the vicinity and I landed in a big field next to highway 474 near 27.

Gary mentioned to me how tight you can thermal the Superfloater, much tighter than the Carbon Dragon and the LightHawk. Shorter wing span and lower aspect ratio does it every time. Well, at least every time that you put it up on a tip, which every one seems to insist is quite possible with the Superfloater.

New Superfloaters?

Roger Coxon rcoxon@bway.net writes:

In reference to the question about the SuperFloater still being constructed, Dave Ekstrom (ekstrom@midwest.net) is working to put them back in production. He is looking for commitment from at least five interested buyers, to enable him to restart the manufacturing. Anyone who is interested should contact Dave and get the details