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Thread: Lympne at Oshkosh?

  1. #1

    Lympne at Oshkosh?

    The 1920s British light aircraft competitions at Lympne led to some interesting machines, but draconian engine displacement restrictions and other criteria meant that most machines created for the competitions were impractically light, expensive and underpowered. Those that did see some measure of post-contest success were generally up-engined and strengthened in their production versions (de Havilland Hummingbird, Westland Widgeon, Blackburn Bluebird, Avro Avian) and none were as successful as the de Havilland Moth, which focused more on being cheap than on being especially light.

    What if EAA were to create a competition to encourage the development of new designs? It could take place, for example, at an airport near Oshkosh the week before Airventure, displaying the planes at the fly-in and maybe saving the last competition event--a speed race, for example--for the week of Airventure. What class of aircraft would you like to see compete: ultralight, light sport, general aviation? Single- or two-seat? How would you handle engines--displacement, horsepower, identical models? And what criteria would you like to see used for scoring? Maximum speed? Minimum speed? Take-off and landing distances? Rate of climb? Fuel efficiency? Gross weight over empty weight? Handling? Cost? Ease of construction?

    Cheers,

    Matthew

    PS--If I won the lottery, I'd use it to fund the development of a couple of relatively inexpensive, four-stroke aircraft engine, say one in the 40-50 hp range and another in the 80-100 hp range. I'd then put up the money for a contest like this, for planes flying with those engines, with prizes for the winners and even a small stipend (say $1,000) for any plane that completed the competition. That's the kind of thing that would generate a lot of new designs, press interest, and help to jump start sport aviation. Of course, I suppose I should start buying lottery tickets from time to time.... ;-)
    *******
    Matthew Long, Editor
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  2. #2

    Join Date
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    Actually, I'd like to see just that sort of thing with these parameters:

    1. LSA compliant.
    2. Under 20K USD total material costs.

    Then one could give awards in both one and two seat configurations for flight duration, speed, VSTOL, etc.

    Ultralights are LSA compliant, btw; indeed, the Light Sport rules were designed specifically with "fat" ultralights in mind, so they'd be able to show up and compete.

    The cost restriction is key - where the EAA falls down in advocacy is the loss of the back yard builder on a beer budget band wagon IMHO. One can build a decent aircraft for that price (I am, after all) and it would serve notice that one need not follow the Monopoly rules (buy four houses and then sell them to buy an airplane) in order to get something in the hangar.

    The homebuilt movement was founded on the cheap (well, inexpensive) aircraft for the common man, after all.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  3. #3
    Eric Witherspoon's Avatar
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    I think the engines might already exist as far as "lower" cost - that would be VW and 1/2 VW. Question there would be do you designate a certain one of these to be the standard for the designs, or allow anything that might, maybe, at some point have had some origin in something that VW once did to be allowable. There's some out there with purpose-cast cases, proprietary cranks, heads, cylinders, etc - where there's nothing but a layout and most of the overall crankcase appearance that is VW-ish. Maybe cost is the criteria that rules out too much in the way of new-design proprietary parts from the engine.

    Now for "lower" cost and weight on par with some of the more expensive options in an all-new engine - a nice concept, but I think those purpose designed/built engines cost what they do for a bunch of reasons that are extremely difficult, if not impossible to overcome. (Jabiru 2200, D-motor, UL Power, Rotax, etc.)

    As far as "new" designs - how is this defined or enforced? Some put a slightly different tail shape on something and call it new. Some put a different molded cockpit surround and call it new. I don't know that "new" is even necessary - this could as well serve to generate publicity for existing designs.

    As for criteria - since one of the main points is low cost, how about a documented parts list with if not actual receipts, at least current pricing from verifiable sources. I've found that a 1-2 seat airframe can be built for ~$2k in Aluminum. That's about the same whether it's stressed-skin (covered in Al sheet) or fabric-covered. But the fabric-covered will then have the cost of the fabric & its finishes. Though I believe that in 1-2-seat airframes, fabric-covered may be the most weight efficient (something about can't get the sheet metal skins thin enough for structural needs without them being hangar rashes waiting to happen, especially behind the cockpit).

    Another criteria to consider would be welding / no welding required (though the plans/kit vendor could supply pre-welded parts at some cost). Along this line - lathe or mill required / not required. This might be tough to judge, as there may be some parts that are just a lot easier to do on a lathe or mill, but still theoretically possible with a file and drill press.

    In the "low cost" category, I see two divisions of how the design gets to the builders - as plans only (maybe with a list of vendors and materials needed) and as a "raw materials" kit with little value added by the kit supplier - other than collecting it all together and boxing it up. Go any distance down the path of pre-cutting parts, match drilling, pre-riveted assemblies, etc. and the cost to the builder grows quickly. Though either of these design delivery methods can easily limit interest by potential builders due to the intimidation factor - what do you mean the kit is just a bundle of 12-foot-long tubes and a hardware list?
    Murphy's 13th: Every solution breeds new problems...

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  4. #4

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    Aug 2011
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    Great idea. Press on. This is what generated planes like the Bowers "Fly Baby".

  5. #5

    Join Date
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    A conventional airplane might cost less money to build but a solar powered design may cost less to operate. Which one is cheaper? A conventional airplane might win a pylon race but a roadable design might beat it to the final destination by reducing inter-modal delays. Which one is faster? There is really no way for a conventional airplane, aerobatic design, race plane, roadable airplane and solar plane to directly compete.

    True innovation cannot be anticipated by the rule makers and any rules they make could potentially work against or even disqualify the very innovation we'd like to see. I would avoid making this into a narrow contest with specific criteria. I think that it would be best to have a "design showcase" with recognition given in broad categories that include safety, ease of construction, efficiency, noise and so on. There should also be provisions to award innovation that that does not fall into these categories.

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