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Potgieter, P.1, Dudley, M.2 and Liebenberg, L.3

Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, University of Pretoria. E-mail: 2 Aerosud (Pty) Ltd. E-mail: 3 Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, University of Pretoria. E-mail:

A variety of glider concepts exist for single person airdropping from cargo aircraft, but cargo aircraft hull size forces small wingspans onto designers creating inefficient gliders. Thus an opportunity exists to design an efficient glider from composite materials which allows a better glide ratio while still fitting into a large cargo aircraft. The glider is required to carry a single person, with safe deployment features and manufactured of composites. A functional analysis was performed to determine the key problems in the design that required attention. After the requirements were understood a few concepts were generated in brainstorming sessions and then evaluated using weighted matrix selection criteria. The design concept emerged as a single wing pivoting on a fuselage to create a simple yet effective aircraft, and further research showed that this was possible as NASA has flown an aircraft in such a configuration. Being a glider, the background basic theory is necessary to evaluate such a problem to determine accurate wing loads and other parameters. The human operator also has a great influence on the aircraft due to its small size and the human centre of gravity is of extreme importance, thus human sizing and control was subsequently also studied. The design analysis was performed to determine wing shape, lift and very importantly adequate strength in the oblique wing position. The construction method was devised for a half scale model. The successful execution of this project is not possible without composite materials as the required aluminium to take the same load is beyond weight limits for flight.

Today many new ways of deploying soldiers in battlefields are required to stay ahead. Flying wings is an ideal way to launch special missions whilst keeping the launch aircraft safe, and allowing the gliding soldier to select a safe landing site after which the main parachute is deployed. The flying wing allows a single soldier to glide to the battlefield. There are such aircraft but they are mainly used for extreme sports and publicity stunts. The original flying wing was the Birdman-wearable (12) wing suit. It is a clever solution but has a poor glide ratio. Next came the SkyRay(13). It utilises a fixed wing that is strapped onto the human's back. The SkyRay also glided poorly. The third version is the Red Bull Wing(14). This glider crossed the English Channel and has a 4:1 glide ratio. The last glider is a complex and expensive glider named Phasst which features movable wings, it was used in a James Bond Movie.

Proceedings of the 2nd Biennial International Composites Africa ISBN Number: 1-920-01720-8 Proceedings produced by: Document Transformation Technologies cc

24 25 August 2004 Johannesburg, South Africa 208

Figure 1. Birdman(12), SkyRay(13), Phasst, Red Bull (14). Only the Birdman is commercially available, and none are manufactured for military purposes. The current redesign is justified in creating a commercially viable product while dramatically increasing the glide range of the aircraft for both military and extreme sport applications.

Project Goals
To design, build and test a glider capable of gliding further than any existing glider in this aircraft category while keeping the operator safe at all times and at the same time making the aircraft fun to fly and commercially viable.

The requirements for the flying wing may be stated as follows: Designed to carry one person Make use of composite materials structure and fittings Designed to fit into a Lockheed C-130 cargo aircraft Easily deployable from a Lockheed C-130 Designed to attach a person onto the glider with a quick-release attachment. Keeps the person, glider and C-130 safe while deploying the glider Easily controlled via a simple system Simple manufacturing process Relative cheap to manufacture Designed to have a minimum glide ratio of 7:1 No interference with main parachute

The purpose of this functional analysis is to divide a rather complex problem into smaller more useful sub problems to ensure an efficient design process. The blocks in the diagram describe what the system should be capable of handling.

Figure 2. Main problem and primary sub-problems. The glider has three primary problems which require breakdown. The human interface breakdown is required as the glider is rather small and the human plays a huge role in this system. The human is also attached to the structure which must accommodate all the systems and features including the mounting of the drogue chute for the extraction system. The extraction system is a separate system which requires only a few sub-problems to be addressed of which all are very important for the success of the total operation.

Figure 3. Human breakdown.

Figure 4. Extraction breakdown.

Figure 5. Structural breakdown.



Table 1. Concept discussion.


Concept A Low Aspect (AR) Ratio Wing Largest Possible Wing Area B Straight Thin Wing Slight Dihedral for Stability C Forward Sweeping Wing with Rigid Centre Section D Rearward folding wing

Advantages -High wing area -Small wingspan -Low strength spar

Disadvantages -Low AR -High lift losses -Dead wing at parachute -Low AR -Very poor gliding ability -Rapid pitching with small CG shift -Might interfere with parachute -Wingspan limited by carrier aircraft -Unstable without tail -No means of control -Difficult to fold wings back -Complex spar and pivot -Lift centre movement will induced instability -Dangerous launching -Complex spar and pivot -Difficulty in extending wings -Movement of lift centre

-Higher AR better glide ratio -Simple to manufacture

-Larger wingspan thus higher AR and glide ratio -Able to fit into larger variety of carrier aircraft

-Larger wingspan thus higher AR and glide ratio -Able to fit into larger variety of carrier aircraft -Compact size -Very simple in design -No moving parts -Designs already proven

E Red Bull, SkyRay, Birdman

-Very low glide ratio due to short wings and low AR


Selection Criteria and Concept Selection

Table 2 shows the concept selection matrix, which follows the product design procedure set out in Ulrich (1) With the highest total being the best option. Table 2. Weighting matrix.

CONCEPTS Selection Criteria Safety Weight


Weight Rating

Weight Rating

Weight Rating

Weight Rating


25%= 0.25 10%= Ease Of Use 0.10 Spar 10%= 0.10 Glide 25%= Range 0.25 Manufacture 10%= 0.10 10%= Design Complexity 0.10 Cost 10%= 0.10 Pivot Total

2 4 10 1 6 10 7 no

0.5 0.4 1 0.25 0.6 1 0.7

3 5 10 4 7 10 7 no

0.75 0.50 1 1 0.7 1 0.7

1 3 1 4 4 5 5 yes

0.25 0.30 0.1 1 0.4 0.5 0.5

2 4 1 4 4 5 5 yes

0.5 0.40 0.1 1 0.4 0.5 0.5

3 6 10 2 6 8 7 no

0.75 0.60 1 0.5 0.6 0.8 0.7






The chosen concept is mixture of all the good qualities of all the other concepts and has longer wings which is able to easily rotate on a sinlge pivot, having a single spar while being rather easy to manufacture. The advantages of having a single swinging wing is that the lift centre stays over the pivot as the forward and rear wings cancel out. There is also no torque induced in the fuselage. The swinging wing allows a larger wing to fit into the Lockheed C-130, compared to a concept with a fixed span. The glider is pulled form the C-130 by a drogue chute. The wing is locked in the oblique position and is attached to the aircraft via a static line. When the static line pulls tight meaning the glider is clear of the C-130- the wing lock pin is pulled out and the drogue chute pulls the wing into the normal flight position. The wing is the locked again and the drogue chute released. The control in pitch and roll is performed by two ailerons doubling as flaps for pitching. The droque chute is designed to allow gentle acceletration of the glider form the hull of the cargo aircraft.


Figure 6. Oblique swing wing concept, clockwise from left artist's impression of glider, Wing Demonstration Model built by lead author, Oblique and Sweep wing comparison (4)(5).


The aircraft is based on glider (sailplane) theory, and it is therefore prudent to review the basic concepts of gliding.

Figure 7. Forces on a glider. A good glider has AR thus being able to glide far. The glide ratio is the range to height ratio a glider can achieve. The higher the ratio the better. This glider is designed to at least attain 7:1

Range Lift Cl = Height Drag Cd



[2] [3] Normally aircraft have thrust to pull it through the air. Gliders depend on gravity thus by flying slightly downwards the glider achieves enough speed to maintain flight. The speed at this angle is


W 2 1 cos d S CL


with the angle being defined (smaller glide angle means greater range)

tan d =

Cd Cl


and the RD (rate of descent) and horizontal flight speed being

2 CD W 2 CD RD = V sin d = V cos d = Cos 3 d 3 Cl S Cl

[6] [7]

Vh = V cos d

Having induced drag means that long slender wings glider better due to less losses over the wing tips due to induced drag thus better effectiveness.




A very important design aspect is the human operator. Humans differ a lot in size and therefore a percentile scale has been adopted. This scale allows an engineer to design a structure to fit anyone or a small range of people. The human centre of gravity is very important for this glider. If the centre of gravity is not in the correct position, the aircraft will be unstable and uncontrollable. Aircraft normally have a so called CG envelope this is how far the CG can shift with the aircraft staying stable. This is normally determined from flight test and mathematical data. Humans also have only certain pulling and pushing strengths occurring at a certain reach. This is also very important for the design of the input required for aileron control as it will be direct control in this design with nothing to assist with the carrying of loads. The aircraft will make use of ailerons for roll by using them differentially, meaning one up and one down. By using them in the same direction they will act as flaps and control the pitching angle of the aircraft. During the extraction from the aircraft, the position of the person's body will also be of great assistance to provide stability during the launch. The drogue chute is for multiple purposes, being to extract the vehicle from the cargo aircraft, to pull the wing to the normal angle at the correct time, and to provide stability in pitch and yaw.

Figure 8. Human centre of gravity (8).


Figure 9. Basic freefall box position (10).

Figure 10. Extraction of cargo using a drogue (11).

The full-scale glider has a wingspan of 3.5 m, but due to cost factors, available wind tunnel sizes and required ease of testing, the first prototype will be a half-scale airworthy model. It was decided to build this glider from various composites rather than traditional aircraft aluminium. Composites in aircraft allow major weight benefits and allow design strength in the directions needed. A problem with forward sweeping wings is known as divergence meaning total loss of a wing, but by using composites and designing for the directions needed this problem can be overcome. Table 3 shows a list of material that will be employed in the half-scale model. Table 3. Material list for glider. Material Carbon Fibre UD 25mm Tape Kevlar Tape Fibre glass Satin weave Aluminium Sheet Usage Area Main wing spar and tail spar Main wing aileron hinge Used to cover wing and tail surface Attachment rib for tail surface Application Method Stacked in layers along wing beneath top and bottom skin Matrix structure broken in green period before it hardens Applied in 1 layer at 45 degrees to flight direction Treated in an anodising process to get maximum bondage Two blocks holding pivot pin and sliding on each other

Polyurethane Aluminium Tube

Pivot Blocks in wing and fuselage Used for tailboom between pivot block and tail

By using Uni-directional (UD) Tape and a typical beam setup the required lifting force of 200 N for the half-scale model can easily be held for the directions required. A hodograph for gliding flight was calculated from the glider characteristics. Figure 11 shows the minimum descent ratio and best glide ratio. It can be seen that a minimum rate of descent of 1.5 m/s is theoretically possible.


Hodograph for gliding Flight 0 RD=Vsing -2 0 -4 -6 -8 -10 Vh=Vcosg 20 40 60 80

Figure 11. Hodograph for gliding flight.


The manufacturing of this vehicle is rather simple. The wing is broken up in 250 mm sections and has a twist of 2over the half span of the wing. Two templates per wing rib size is created; One for cutting the top and a second to cut the bottom part of the wing. The required 0.5between the sides of each section it already designed into the template. Two Fibrelam ribs are manufactured for the centre section of the wing. The main purpose of these ribs is to evenly distribute the forces of the wing lift into the top pivot block and also provides holes for the correct mounting of the pivot block into the wing. After cutting all the sections they are aligned in the master from which they were cut and then the spar is laid up comprising four layers of carbon fibre UD tape. The wing is taken from the master and rotated to also place the spar on the bottom of the wing in position. The two wing ribs are also bonded in on the spar. With the wing pieces bonded together and the wing keeping its form, the finer cutting work is done. This involves cutting positions for the servos and also the cutting of the ailerons. When all the cutting is done and the wing is worked off to a fine degree, the wrapping process is performed. The wing will receive one layer of Fibre Glass at a 45 angle to the leading edge. This 45angle is crucial in the strength of the wing in the oblique position as it provides the necessary torsion to avoid diversion. The bi-directional Kevlar tape is then placed into position on top of the wing and aileron and bonded into position. When it is in the "green stage" the matrix is broken and the Kevlar is free to move providing a hinge that should outlast the life of the glider. The bottom pivot block contains four holes for test rig or later payload attachment. The half-scale model is much more simple in design compared to the full-scale vehicle and does not include the quick-release mechanism. The aluminium tube is attached to the bottom pivot block and connected to the adjustable tail via an aluminium rib. This rib will be treated in a Chromic Acid Anodising process to create a porous surface film to dramatically enhance the bonding strength to the tail covering. The resin system used is Epoxy (EpoLam 2022) which has a TG of 110C. For the purpose of this project the resin glass matrix will only be cured at 50C as it is not anticipated that the scale model will see elevated temperatures, and the construction method does not lend itself to post curing at elevated temperatures. This we believe will give approximately 80% of its potential strength at 40. The resin will reach full potential strength at room temperature after 10 days.

Figure 12. Wing build-up description. Glass to resin ratio will be 1:1 by weight. This will be achieved by applying specific amounts of resin to pre-determined surface areas. The parachute attachment and pivot attachment points will be appropriately reinforced with extra layers of 7781 Glass. In the production full-scale glider the construction will be prepreg with an expected resin/glass ration of 38/62. The overall design of the glider structure for the sake of engineering costs has in all probability been extensively over engineered. A more accurate analysis of the strength of the spar and attachment points would only be done for a full-scale prototype where human life is at risk and weight a factor. Filament wound composite tube would have been preferable but due to availibility and cost this has been declined for the half-scale prototype.

This project has been made possible by composite materials technology. By using advanced materials huge weight savings have been made and the required loads can be met. The elliptical shape wing requires special forming when using aluminium but is easy to form with fibres. The first prototype is under construction and will start its flight test program at the end of August 2004, including wind tunnel and vehicle-mounted tests. There is certainly a need for this product and if executed well there is a huge potential military and civilian market. The wing model showed that the principle is viable and a complete aerodynamic analysis shows that this flying wing concept is realistic and should achieve glide ratios in excess of 7:1.

The author would like to thank Aerosud (Pty) Ltd and the University of Pretoria for funding this programme. He is further grateful to Dr Paul Potgieter for his assistance and inspiration.

b S Cl Cd p V W Wing span of an aircraft Total Wing area Coefficient of Lift Coefficient of Drag Air Density Speed Weight Glide Angle Induced Drag (m) (mxm)

(m/s) (N) (Radians)



AR AR (Aspect Ratio) is the finesse of the wing

AR =

Wingspan Wingspan 2 = Chord WingArea

Centre Of Gravity Unidirectional Temperature Gradient

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