Video collage of the first flights at Air Sailing, courtesy Lee Edling:
Flying this glider for the first time was remarkable largely for how unremarkable it was. We made sure the paperwork was in order, double-checked everything, and then I climbed into it and towed into the air. It trimmed out easily, flew straight, showed excellent handling and control response, displayed no bad habits, and all the systems worked fine. I stayed up about an hour and a half, and as soon as I got back we put Doug into it for a flight–I had no reservations whatsoever to trusting my friend to it.
Some additional thoughts on what I really liked about flying Doug’s HP-24:
* The radio worked. It transmitted and received clearly, the Jim Weir dipole antenna that Doug installed in the rudder had good SWR, and we didn’t have any of the com problems that so often plague new aircraft.
* The wheel brake worked. We chose a powerful and proven Matco hydraulic disk unit, and when I got to the end of the airbrake travel it kicked in just like it was supposed to.
* The instruments worked. The last time I test flew a glider, it took two or three flights to find all the leaks and restrictions in the instrument plumbing. This time, all the pre-flight checks paid off with solid readings.
* The total energy compensation worked, and our vario was rock solid during pullups and pushovers. We’d built our own TE compensation probe, but used the well-proven Nicks pattern orifice layout.
* The flight controls worked. When I first flew an HP-18 with the original side stick, there was only the vaguest suggestion of a connection between the stick and the control surfaces, and even less connection between the surfaces and the air. With the HP-24, I made damn sure that the surfaces were generously sized, had plenty of angular travel, and were solidly connected to an ergonomically designed handle. And when I moved that handle, the world moved with it.
* The undercarriage worked. Brad had rightfully complained about the ergonomics of the undercarriage retract system that we built for his Tetra-15, so I designed a completely new cockpit control for the kit standard HP-24.