A Flying Wing Design
2 Years on.....
flown flying-wing designs for some time now, I am moving things forward to
achieving something new, for me at least. A wing that can fly in excess of 150 –
200 mph as a glider with no tail plane, in the dead air on the back of a steep
slope using a technique called Dynamic Soaring (DS).
Where did it all begin?
Starting with a “SAS Thing” back in the 90’s which, I built and flew for many
hours in some bitterly cold southerly wind conditions whilst in the Falkland
Islands. At the end of my tour, it was dismantled (I actually put a saw through
the wings to pack it into a box) and shipped it back to the UK before reassembling
it and flew it for quite a few years after, complete with the talon wounds
inflicted by the territorial turkey vultures, residents of the Falklands.
Because I felt the “Thing” needed a little more directional stability, I then
created a new model “Stingray” of similar wing form but different wing section
and with a ply fuselage allowing the fin to be further back behind the wing.
improved the flying characteristics of the model. In fact, the foam veneered model proved quite
popular with my colleagues who all managed to twist my arm to provide them with
a wing plan pack. This worked well at promoting the RAFMAA slope flying wing -
fun event. And, for the record, I still have the original! However, this was all
before the advent of EPP foam and the famous Zagi models.
At the time of the new combat craze, I found a source of EPP foam and took the
general design and created a number of different zagi type models and often cut
a few extra wings for those not wanting to pay so much money for a commercial kit.
Next came the “Fling”, another of my own small flying wing designs, about 700mm
wingspan, veneered foam wings
with an MH 61 section which, is a reflexed wing section designed for flying
wings (No tailplane). A fibreglass fuselage based on the shape and size of a model called a
“Gnott” which was a free plan in, I think, the Radio Modeller magazine back in
the late 80’s. (I had a couple of these little aerobats too – Great Fun!). However, this was my first attempt at making
a fibreglass fuselage and I learnt a
lot - my first attempt saw more resin on me and the bench than in the mould! The
"Fling" was particularly fast due to the high wing loading, but it worked
really well, yes it looks like it needed a tailplane, but looks are not
everything. The landings were a bit too fast for comfort though. Again I still
have the original model, but I only made one of these.
Next came a commercially available EPP model call a Wanabee, made by Stan Yeo at
products. I still take
this model with me almost everywhere I go. It is a real fun
machine and very forgiving, It copes with such a wide range of conditions.
Indeed, At a gathering on the Long Mynd, Shropshire two years ago, we measured
the wind speed gusting to 72mph. Yes It flew, just couldn’t get it to land….
Eventually landing it inverted………..(Phew!). Sadly, these models are no longer in
the last few years I have become quite intrigued with Dynamic Soaring (DS)
since watching a video, from Reece Videos, called “Lift Ticket”. The concept is
to fly in and out of the dead air behind the slope in which, speed over
of 300 mph can be achieved. Well that was the record when I started to look into
this type of modelling. It is now over
400mph, and all with a glider !!!!!!!!.
Dynamic soaring info can be found
on a Google search "Dynamic Soaring" and videos can be found again through a
Google search "youtube dynamic soaring" , but a couple of links are here to start you off.
old but informative article)
speed check: 100" glider = 357mph
(hold on to your hat!)
Another one for 350kph but this one ends in
I even found a video of a "Weasel" being
encouraged on to the darkside and also an "Alua".
Remember, Dynamic Soaring is on the back of the
hill opposite side from the prevailing wind direction!
As you will see from the many youtube videos available, DS is not for the faint hearted,
but I want to have a go! Not to break the record, or a model, but to achieve a
commendable speed with a flying wing (if its a record then so much the better -
I'll walk before I run). Lots of research and sketching has
resulted in a new own design model called “Dude”. A flying wing design of 60”
constructed from Foam veneered wings, with a spar and covered in epoxy glass, a
fibre glass / carbon pod and boom fuselage and 2 servos controlling Elevons. The
model now flies really well, but in the beginning, this was not the case.
Plug and Mould waiting for Fuselage to cure
Fuselage just out of the mould - needs trimming
#1 - dry assembled
good friend of mine (Terry Griggs) received the 1st Dude out of the mould. He took a
week off work especially to finish the build and then I joined him to test fly it at a
event – after a couple of scary moment with a rearward C of G, people
were suggesting it was a Dud rather than a Dude. With the C of G sorted it was
much more manageable, but there was
still something not quite right. We retired for the inevitable scratching of
heads over a good curry and a few beers….. We returned to our B&B accommodation
and burnt the midnight oil
to sort out the Transmitter programming. The following day, the Hecklers were
eating their words, with them eventually lining up to have a go. However, once I
had got the model grooving and performing as I had intended it to, even I could
the transmitter out of Terry's hands; and for some unknown reason, he had the
biggest grin on his face. The second model is my own 60 “ Dude, much the same as
the first but with a ballast tube installed in the wing (I haven’t tried ballast
yet); equally as nice to fly.
The model has now been developed into the 2nd generation model of 72”
“Dude ds”, and a 4 servo wing, allowing different type of control mixing.
Essentially, 2 x aileron, and 2 x flaps. These can be configured in many ways,
but the idea is that in fast flight, only the inboard flaps would work as
elevators, the outboards as ailerons, but for really lively performance they
could be configured at the flick of a switch to be full span aileron, or full
span elevons… The model flies really well with full ailerons and inboard only
for pitch control. This is important when I eventually get the model on the back
of the slope for that Dynamic Soaring experience. Consecutive outside loops is
particularly pleasing, a rare capability of most slope models.
Dude # 1 (60 ")
Dude # 2 (60")
Dude # 3 (72")
There are only 3 Dude models in existence at the moment with the 72” version
built and owned by my good friend and flying buddy Neil Tricker. This really is
the model I had in mind when I started to design it, and just for Neil, we had a
new shape for the fin. The extra wing span gives the model that little extra
lift, but does not slow it down, the inverted performance is second to none.
it performs consecutive outside loops with more grace than the 60“ version and
with the various control mixing, it generates a major grin on those that fly it.
And what’s more, although quite critical to set up correctly, it also allows for
crow braking, slowing the model up for landing. . I have yet to build one of
these, or at least have a second 72” wing for the original fuselage.
The Need for Speed….
The next stage is to build the 72” – “Ultimate Dude”, Hopefully the model that
will be put to the test during Dynamic Soaring conditions. The model
construction will be similar to the original sport versions but instead of wood
veneer on the foam wings, it will have Carbon
and Kevlar, with living control hinges,
making for a much stiffer and stronger wing. If you have seen any models being
subjected to Dynamic Soaring, then you will know that they need to be very
Lots to do.....
I need to build a 72” wing and get my head round the mixing
required, then create the carbon Kevlar version. However, I need to hone the vac
bagging technique of carbon Kevlar wings yet. So making a new wing for a new
SmArt model is now required (uses less carbon and Kevlar cloth so will be
cheaper on any mistakes), so that’s another to-do job.
The photos depict some of the stages of build of the component parts up to dry
assembly. And then the finished models. - more models to come!
3 Dudes & The Amigos
At the Lleyn slope fly-in event in October 2011, the model was flown by Andy
Ellison (RCM&E Slope columnist) resulting in some good photos and encouraging
words. (RCM&E January 2012 – “Hey Dude”).
2 years on and I now have a new 72” version of the
A lot has happened in the Waite workshop since my original Dude article but 2
years on I now have a new 72" Dude to show off.
previously stated, I needed to hone my skills and the techniques for vac bagging
and produce some glass covered wings with living hinges. To keep cost down and
the project small whilst I develop the new skills I developed the wind
construction technique for my new small fun sized aerobatic model to replace the
aging SmaArt model. This new
model is the “Midge”.
Indeed I have made quite a few wings for this new model, some with wood veneer press onto the cores
with epoxy, and also multilayer glass with living hinges
pressed straight on to the foam cores which have been particularly successful.
Utilising my CNC foam cutter I
created the blue foam cores for the new 72” Dude. I prepared some Mylar sheets
on which to lay up the glass cloth and hinge material.
Having incorporated the servo wire conduit, installed a shear web “I” spar from
1/16 ply topped with carbon tows, a carbon leading edge. Plywood
reinforcement for the root chord and balsa wing tips, each panel was subsequently vac bagged.
Once the excess glass cloth and resin was trimmed from the cores they were then
joined, spars joint filled with Carbon and then reinforcement glass cloth
layered over the join and subsequently put back in the vac bag overnight.
control surfaces were prepared by removing unwanted core foam material up to the
hinge and then fettled until the controls were free to move. 2 controls per wing,
Elevator and Aileron, but with mixing these can be programmed to work together (Elevon)
much like the smaller 60" version of the Dude or individually. The servos were installed
into the 50mm holes cut into the
underside of the wing and used some ABS covers to finish the installation off.
fuselage was fabricated with a slightly longer carbon boom and a new shape fin
which is more akin to the shape of a surf board skeg. The whole model was
finally lightly sanded before the new colour scheme being applied.
With the model balanced where I calculated the Centre of Gravity to be, a test flight was
arranged at my local slope, Parlick, Lancashire.
Conditions were very light but good for a first flight to get everything sorted.
I was very glad of the light conditions as the CoG was a little too far back
giving an exceptionally twitchy model to control and land safely. Fortunately I
had pre-empted this very situation and after selecting the individual control
mixing and application of rates, the model was landed successfully.
moved the C of G ¼” forward, the model was then committed to the second and
subsequent flights, this time much more secure in flight envelope and whilst
the conditions did not allow for much height or manoeuvres to be performed, I
was able to trim the model for normal flight in readiness for better conditions.
Two weeks on in early December I met up with my flying buddy Neil, at the
Long Mynd, Shropshire for a long weekends flying. The 2nd day weather conditions favouring the Dude. (the
a story all of its own - Sun and Ice) I was not to be
disappointed. Gaining confidence that the balance and set up was good the flight
envelope was expanded; rolls were good, not as lively as could be, but more than
adequate, multiple loops and bunts were good, and if put into a gradual stall
situation, it just didn’t. The model just nodded slightly having pulled the
stick back gently to the full deflection, only being able to induce a
predictable stall with very aggressive use of the controls.
was the confidence, that Neil reminded me I was pushing my luck whilst pushing
through half bunts for turn round manoeuvres close in to the slope… but it did
what was asked of it and quite impressively too.
and final day to our expedition also did not disappoint once the low cloud had
cleared. A nice sunny day with good lift and again the model was pushed further
and was at one point, flown alongside Neil’s Dude for comparison with both
offering a similar flight performance, but what was noticeable was that my model
had come out a little lighter than Neil’s original, possibly due to the
different techniques during the wing fabrication. The use of crow brake was good
allowing for a slower than normal landings which to my surprise was fairly easy
to set up on this flying wing.
smiles all round we headed home and I’m looking forward to getting some big air
beneath its wings and really pushing the envelope, hopefully the coming weeks
and months will be kind. Indeed, with Christmas just a few days away, I should
be able to get out and be forced fed fresh air stood on the side of a hill.
We also need to get a date in the diary to meet up at Rushup edge in the peak
district to try some DSing.
If you are interested in the Dude or have
any questions, why not get in touch.
Dude recently featured in the March 2016 RCM&E article by Andy Ellison.