Airfoils

Maynard Hill said it best "I don't think airfoil shape is very important. At typical model loading, most anything will fly--Epplers included!". This was after setting the world duration record with a model that was flying at a Reynolds number of 300K. The F3B machines just slide through that number when they go through their tasks, however the world of the sport flier will be more like 90K, or less. This is the area Soartech does not like to address because of tremendous unpredictability. Unfortunately this is what the sport flier is stuck with because of the 5-7-10 rule that nature has forced upon us when the sport flier launches to altitudes less than 500 feet. Approx. 5 meters per sec is the airspeed we have to work low altitude lift with. Because the value of min. sink airspeed predicates and locates the machines typical polar curve; the speed of 7 meters per sec is the approx. speed for max L/D. Flat out race to fit this basic curve would be 10 meters per sec. (note: Camber changing could shift max. L/D to 8 meters per sec, and flat out would be closer to 12 meters per sec; however, this is for the pilot's to decide how to employ his skill after learning the basics). This 5-7-10 rule is a tool that befits launching at low altitude to work lift efficiently. Most crude light sailplanes will work in this area if the wing loading is under 8 ounces per foot. L/D is the quality measurement of a family of airspeeds, and this surprisingly becomes more important than peak velocity when we search for the ingredients that maximize duration. In the upper air that the sport flier gets access to after learning the basics, he will learn that ballast is a useful tool to push the performance envelope of his machine's usable L/D to a higher state. This reduces his low launch climb out ability to accommodate the higher nominal airspeed for larger thermals that are further apart. The divorce in the technology between the sport flier and AMA contest addict is that the lower air performance is sacrificed to improve reliability of task in the upper air at a contest. Mathematically, if a F3B machine were loaded to 16 ounces per square foot of wing area the modern winch system would throw it high enough to yield a statistical 6 minute flight! (Thanks to the research of Dr. Selig via Soartech, Dr. Eppler, Quabeck, Wortmann, Oglesby etc.). Unfortunately the sport flier with limited launching equipment has little to gain from this approach because he will be out of universe i.e. he is anchored to less than 100K Reynolds; and typically 1/10 the available line tension because of the use of a high start. What happens to airfoil selection in this universe is basically unknown (because the answers are not made available). The truth in fact is that it is hard to detail the difference between the flat bottomed French curve special and the Eppler 214 (my favorite) when the sailplane has a loading of 6 ounces per foot. When you are trying to fly anything that weighs less than 6 ounces per foot it seems the 'spirit' of the windsocks normally used to protect wing during shipment, were left on covering the wing so there is a situation existing that can be called 'too light'. Until Soartech will accept the fact that low launch sailplanes for sport flyer's need answers on how to get an airfoil to perform at 15 mph. with a wing chord of approx. 6 inches, no real research is being made that benefits the sport flier. To date my experiments with invigoration, and soon stepped upper surface, has been the only breakthrough I have experienced (and I have yet to find anyone else experimenting). The kit manufacturer that comes closest to the 70k Re universe is the Waco company that does concentrate on vacuum bagged high tech machines that are surprisingly light in weight;

they could become very effective if the airfoil problem were licked so that they could have the missing low speed profile needed. Interestingly all the High tech 'high launching' profiles can be centered on one basic design. The S-7037! What I am trying to state is if a top of the line pilot dedicates himself to that profile, and is good enough, he will win AMA contests along with present state of art F3J meets; and it matters not whether opponents have a Selig, Oglesby, or Eppler's super profiles. The truth of the matter is he would win whether the profile was an RG-15, Legionair, QT-1, or Eppler 214 (thinned to 9%)!! Now when your talking low launch; you really need to feel, and understand the attributes of the profiles you are working with. My Beach-ball, Spica, 11% Flat-bottom with modified entry, the Eppler 207 etc. are all very workable (including the S-7037 and its relatives, if you can build light enough). What I am saying is that low launch needs the missing answers of profile functioning more so than high launch. Since I have decided to fly a lower universe, I had tried to get information on handling the 70k Reynolds number needed from the experts, to no avail. What I am looking for is an Airfoil profile actually designed for 65k Re with enough spar depth for strength, and sufficient torsion resistance; with L/D paramount at the 65k. The present response of the American scientists, that run a wind tunnel at 5 mph (?) to give us answers of low 65k Re, is quite useless. If their findings had any viability, the modern FFs of today should not fly well at all (even though their attempts at pure ‘Duration’ presently is at the highest level ever). If necessary use smaller models (6 inch chord) in the wind tunnel, so the airspeed at 65k is more normal to what the model will see; have the upper surface program arrayed with and without invigorators to see their effect. I am tired of my peepshow attempts to find answers by trail and error. In my point of view the Eppler 400 series, or how about the thick 14% Wortman full size type airfoil with invigorators, should be the type of airfoil deployed in a high 20 to 1 plus aspect ratio wing. It would be more interesting to see the clinically correct profile for the airspeed of 15 mph identified for comparison. One should not concern himself with the fact that windspeed in the first 2000 feet of altitude doubles, or the performance level of another profile is better at 20 mph. Once the 65k high efficiency profile is tied down, then meaningful compromises can be made. I simply am stating that I believe we should be working from the bottom up, instead of the top down. This is the problem with most of us engineers; we get caught up with "state of art" design for the competitive limit that we choose to be important. In my case I am not concerned about performance as much as duration, so I am attempting to get the best L/D for the speed dictated by the thermals within the universe that I fly, thus high speed performance takes the backseat. There was a problem in the early days of balsa and film sailplanes, and the brute force cure was to add ballast (of which I was an advocate). You see mother nature really controls the airspeed we have to fly at, and to be in sync with her rhythm, we have to let our sink rate become a 2nd class citizen. The high lift profiles of that time would allow us the float to get good rates of climb, however the high drag reduced our scamper ability (even with ballast). What we needed then was drag reduction via the airfoil (whereas most of us were trying to make the fuselage sleeker). The theorist's of this period had the right

idea when they advanced to the point where they reduced lift by thinning the airfoil. The problem with that approach is the 'bubble' that tremendously reduces efficiency at the low Re, limits the concept. My approach of adding a invigorator to the typical airfoil (antique flatbottom included) also reduces the lift, but seems to reduce the drag of the airfoil in a greater proportion making me believe that the bubble is being effected. I believe the sport flyer, and experimenter, should be looking for ways to make his wing work at the airspeed he requires to match his skill level, and the thermal universe that exists for him. The luxury of super-launch and high altitude flying is just not readily available, nor is necessary to enjoy the sport of thermal soaring. Basically what I am saying is all the typical profiles are good whether they be flat bottomed, Phillips modified, or what have you (Kline-Foggleman included) as long as something is done to make them work efficiently at 15 mph. Turbulate, step, invigorate, vent, or invent the means to clean the wings; and as a side note - one should improve response and damping by the tail surface group as an answer to make the model sailplane more responsive when the airspeed center is reduced to improve duration. Once this will be accomplished, so that long skinny wings that work better to open up longer thrilling flights of higher quality, the sportsman type of flier should finally be contented....until his launch is cut down further!....100 meter launch anyone?? Have you seen the latest in FF models? Wakefields with a wingspan of 86 inches, Nordics with spans that exceed 100 inches! How do they do this??? My friend, they are using high tech materials wisely (frugally). Carbon fiber; D tube wings, reinforced spars, capped ribs. Very little of this technology has moved into the RC soaring group because their concern is for performance first, and duration "is really in the backseat"! It is this way because of extreme launch horsepower that puts the model into the bottom end of a full size sailplane's universe. So we now have models competing for the same airspace universe as full size soaring machines; with handicapped pilots!!; because they are grounded. To me this is like musicians putting on blindfolds to compete with Stevie Wonder!!! Let's get a little deeper into my findings at low launch. Tail surface airfoils that seem to be the most effective for 15 mph flying seems to be of the "diamond" structure. It yields the greatest strength, and rigidity for the lightest weight. Because of its thicker profile, it beats the flat plate by a tremendous margin for corrective forces, and thus reduces the surface area needed. The performance compares favorably to the NACA 009 (I can't tell the difference, and I'll bet the wind tunnel just would not be that sensitive at 15 mph.). Wing airfoil selection also is uncritical when flying speed is centered upon 15 mph. A flatbottom with Phillips entry works as well as an Eppler 214. Both of these fine airfoils will be outperformed by a simple flat-bottom that has a blunt leading edge, and an invigorator of proper height (especially if quality of workmanship is not laboratory precise on these examples). In my point of view the real king of the soaring profiles is the Eppler 214 (note: camber changing, with a base loading of 6 ounces per foot empty and a full ballasted loading of 12 ounces per foot....This would be the real challenge for the high tech builder, engineer, technician; and the end result would be one mean thermal machine capable of intense duration, accomplish cross country tasks, and still be docile and forgiving enough to satisfy a wide range of pilots). To sum the whole thing up "caveman style". Flatem plate works; Curved Flatem

plate (approx. 3.5% MCL) works twice as good. Anything else may work up to 10% better. This means that the entire sophisticated family of high tech. airfoils are in a smaller percentile than the variation in skill of top notch pilots, or the skill of builders and designers (Hans Mueller included) that aim for perfection. Select your airfoil as the golfer selects his clubs. If your eyesight is great, and you enjoy flying far off field; go for the high speed gusto when you feel competent. If you dabble in this great sport, and wish to enjoy a more vertical world (closer to you), thicker airfoils should not embarrass you, but give you the big thrill when you out climb the "experts". From the Book "Thermals are nothing more than more Hot Air for Model sailplane pilots" by Al Sugar Al Sugar PO Box 113315 Carrollton, TX. 75011-3315

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