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RC Soaring Engineering (balsa and film)

RC Soaring Engineering (balsa and film)

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Published by Alvin Sugar
Implimentation for better performance for old sailplane designs that are generally built too light and weak torionally for modern soaring.
Implimentation for better performance for old sailplane designs that are generally built too light and weak torionally for modern soaring.

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Alvin Sugar on Apr 07, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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In Search of the ‘Missing’ ProfileFor twenty years now I have asked the same simple question that apparently was just too‘profound’ for the American aeronautical experts to answer in a simple manner. “What isthe best profile form that an entry level sailplane should employ”?
The Answer: 10% flat bottom with blunt entry.
Why is it that it appears that education breeds stupidity here in the USA?? My dad spent30 years in college and his professional titles were quite impressive; too bad he had nocommon sense. When he sent me to Berkley to work for my PhD he did me a greatservice; because I bowed out of his plan for me to have a PhD before my 21st birthday,and I joined the hippies instead (after acquiring a ‘minor’ engineering degree). Its kindasad when we have reached the point where a farmer who wants to plow a field has somehotshot ‘Professional’ tell him that this here professor has just cloned the finest racehorses in the world, so this new clone should be the best beast for the job of plowing.The inventor becomes deaf to the honest feedback that the farmer generously donates (i.e.“stick it up your nose”) and this attitude simply demonstrates professional ignorance because the professor still thinks (totally in blind faith) his product will fulfill any of his‘off the wall’ claims.When I got into contest soaring in 1976 I started with a Pierce Paragon (a rather largeentry level machine). Flying it against Legionairs, I quickly realized the short comings of a thick flat bottomed airfoil.[[profile #1My Legionairs that were started in 1978 (including the Shuttle versions) had pronouncedPhillips entry. Cecil Haga and John Rimmer spearheaded a drive for thin flat bottomsections that were very effective at the time. With the help of Dr. Eppler, the Legionair’sstandard airfoil was completed with it having a degree of Phillups entry to begin with.[[profile #2My Increasing the amount of Phillips came from the California group of fliers as adviceon how to tune up and get more out of the Legionair airfoil. Also their technologyexpanded upon thickening the wing as the way to handle both the increasing tension of the winch, and the increasing Aspect ratio of the wing. So the answer on improving flat- bottom performance, at that time, did not come from the hallowed halls of education, butfrom the technicians that were searching for improvements. Interestingly John Rimmer’ssuccess story was done with a very thin flat bottom profile, and it was a great approach tolow CD flight; however my problems were trying to gain sufficient stiffness with so thina profile, and the weight of the machines that I was building at the time (because I wasalready using 12 volt winches to launch).
As I got more into contest flying my Legionairs, they sported spoilers that were reducedin size compared to Cecil’s design; that better finessed the landing, and yielded morestrength to the wing. Seeing Mike Bame's success with his MB 253515 I tried a Geminikit, but was not impressed. I then went to a combination of two profiles that both hadshortcomings; Eppler 205 that had a weak low end, and the Bame airfoil that did notseem to tolerate loading. The marriage yielded the ‘Happy Medium’ that was 13% thick,and worked great in two channel high AR machines. When I reached the point that I nolonger needed spoilers to land; the Red Bird was born out of simplicity and was thehighest reliability machine I owned (that won the most contest hardware for me). Noweveryone at this time was seeking a sportsman’s class to stimulate more interest insoaring, but because of my status, I wasn’t allowed to fly my two channel machines inthis division. No problem I had 2 ch standard to fall back on.....oops gone also!!Realizing that the profile design for the cruder balsa and film machines was not reallyadvancing or evolving, and that all the ‘experts’ wanted of me and my associates was tosupport their latest pet project super- whippy-dippy low CD profile....the kind that would be difficult for an expert, let alone a novice, to construct via balsa and film. They had notime to invest in entry level machine design, or they simply felt it was beneath them.[[profile #3The Beach ball with its very blunt leading edge, slow upper surface ramp, was a naturalfor many different construction techniques; multi spar, D tube, Plate wing, full depth
 spar, box spar etc. So far 5 machines all over the country were built with this profileand the findings about the same. Speed range equal to or greater than the Eppler205! A really great response for so crude a profile. Although the Pierce Arrowcompany built theirs with a D tube structure, I had originally built mine with a Olytype of wing (only to convert it to a Plate wing at a later date).With the advent of winch power going from high to ridiculous, and the flying sitesgetting smaller, I had started to investigate toning down my launching equipmentand studying effects of ratio types of tasks (using dead air time as a nominal timebase). The hope was to attract more newcomers, and keep costs reasonable - andnot be a deterrent. At this point in time I am no longer a contest buff because their isno contests available for those of us that just wish to dabble in toy aircraft (unlessone wishes to dabble in powered models). At the same time that I was loosing thecontest bug I had noticed that many of the individualistic local flyers, that were notin the Dallas League of Silent Flight club, were no longer coming to the DallasLeague contests. I believe that they just got tired of blowing their machines up onthe club winch (to the glee of the Dallas Club members). Shortly after that time, Iinitiated the Hot Air Master concepts; only to discover that the machines thatperformed well in the upper air were a bit too ‘dense’ for the lower launchings.Decreasing weight of a design helped the launch to the point a nominal 10 lb.tensioned (3 to 1 stroked) high start was capable of zoom launching a 12 to 1 AR,100 inch 36 ounce sailplane in calm air. Once off the launch; however, the machine
was doo-doo; but would climb like mad if you put it right into the eye of lift. Cute,but not good enough for a contest task, ratio evaluated or not. Now needing tospeed the machine up to reach out for lift could be done conventionally by currenttechnology, however we get back to the problem of the novice builder unable to casta molded lightweight wing, or come up with the cost of having someone do it forhim. More air speed without weight, along with maintaining the spar depth forreasonable strength, became the engineering problem that I was seeking the simplesolution to, and the experts turned their backs on me.The ‘experts’ did not like my first success with this problem; because it is rathercrude. The Sugar Trip turbulator at 55% wing chord, 45 mils thick. The badfeature is that it creates premature separation and thus one loses slow speed flight(the float). The good feature is that it works (i.e. statistically proven)![[profile #4Those that used this device on lightweight sailplanes liked its reaction, plus theimproved handling. The ‘mini spoiler’ trip made sure the sailplane was circulating,and proved that it was the equivalent of adding 20% of the A/C weight in moreballast --- that the launching system of limited force did not see! The Sugar Tripwas tried with a myriad of profiles and seemed to work well in speeding sailplanesup that were ‘too light’ (when high tension launching was not available to haul up aballasted machine).Since I was unable to get cooperation on my project here in America I went toEurope and presented my situation to their talent; and received my most usableinformation from Denis Oglesby of England. However in the interim, in trying todevelop a standard design of a profile that could honestly be labeled as an EntryLevel Profile that would be usable by an average soaring individual - with his ownavailable flying sites for practice - and still have a realistic contest format that wouldbe suitable for that individual to grow with; all I got out of the AMA, and its officerswas basically resistance. So the ‘ball’ was still in my court.The beginning of this year (1998) I realized (with Denis Oglesby’s information) thatmy problem was “concern for a MCL”. The Sugar Trip effectively reduced theMCL effect, and thus improved the airspeed capability of a sailplane that was a bittoo light, so why not go all the way. Now that the only control for the centerairspeed employing a symmetrical profile (streamlined flat plate) would be themass; lightness thus becomes an important goal for a symmetrical airfoil thatoperates typically at lower alpha. Because the speed range is actually reduced bythis limitation, the controls and thus handling, tend to work more positively. All thatis accomplished by doing it this way is that for a given design configuration is thatthe Symmetrical would be the least CD for the spar height that is necessary. Insteadof flying a Sagita type of machine with its Eppler 205 flying at 9 ounces per foot onthe currently standard high launch, we are now flying a similar appearing machineat 5 to 7 ounces per foot for a limited launching of 250 feet AGL with a symmetrical

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