The mid – late 70’s

I had finished my second homebuilt. The first was from drawings this one was from an idea that I could do something better. Deflectors were the order of the day (struts and wire on the leading edge for strengthen and shape) and methods to enhance billow shift were evolving. (Including ‘pulley system’, many already in use). My idea was to just extend the cross tube a bit and put a small pulley wheel on the ends. This and a ‘normal’ pulley wheel on the nose plate gave one continues cable running from wingtip to wingtip around the nose plate. There were no deflectors as such. As one wingtip flexed in the other flexed out. For strength there were also two additional flying wires going from wing tip to ‘A’ frame corner.
This flew ok and the billow shift mechanism worked fine.
There was nothing particularly innovative here, but it was a slightly unusual configuration.

I had tested this to the point of flying from Cromer but after flying a while I thought the ‘A’ frame base bar was really too far back and needed adjusting. Like a fool I did this on site, and in an adrenaline filled flying state of mind.
I tilted the ‘A’ frame forward a bit by lengthening the rear wires and shorting the front wires (as a prototype It was all easily adjustable). What I forgot to do was lengthen the additional flying wires. The effect of this was to put unacceptable amounts of camber on the leading edges giving a glider configuration that enjoyed going into a dive…
I prepared for a cliff takeoff.
GO …..and I was up and away.

I immediately knew there was something wrong and a second later I knew exactly why. The glider started to speed up as the nose pitched down. My god I thought and for some inexplicable reason I started to sing loudly. The nose down tendency was already starting to make my arms ache and I was heading out to sea. I tried to wrap my feet around the rear flying wires to ease the pressure on my arms but this made me lose what little control I had.
I had to make a turn and as I did the glider sped up even more and started to side-slip for good measure.
This was not good so I sang even louder interspersed with OH SH**.
By the end of the first verse of ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ I was flying very low very fast and heading along the beach pushing out for all I was worth. One Herculean effort got the nose up a bit. Fortunately as there was a bit of cross wind and I was heading directly into it I managed to make a perfect but very fast running landing….
Piece of cake.

This problem was easily fixed but this glider came to the end of its life when a slightly out of control bonfire damaged the sail. I was not as disappointed as I should have been. Glider design is best left to the experts.

Mike Lake

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