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Thread: Book from 1912 on how to build a Biplane. Does this have any chance to fly?

  1. #1

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    Big Grin Book from 1912 on how to build a Biplane. Does this have any chance to fly?

    Hi, i recently found a booklet in the internet archive that teaches how to build a biplane glider from scratch, and I wanted to share it here with you, and also if possible, know if the model described in the book has any chance at all to take off.

    The booklet in question is a short manual titled "How to build a 20 foot Bi-Plane Glider" and it is written by Alfred Powell Morgan, an electical engineer, in 1912. The booklet it's about the newest tecnology of that time, the planes. It talks about Orville and Wilbur Wright and their first flight in a motorized aircraft, it talks about Otto Lilienthal who is believed to be the first man to ever fly an aircraft, it talks about the principle of a plane, it talks about gliders, and the most important part,

    How to build a 20 foot Bi-Plane Glider, from scratch, it explains wich materials gather, how to treat them, how to build the plane, always prioritizing safety, and when finished, it explains how to fly it. When I found out this, I was really happy, I read the book and thought: "holly molly, I've gotta do this". And so, i started the building of the aircraft, with a friend and my dear father.

    And so dear friends, i bring to you this beautiful booklet of less than 80 pages, very clear explained and with some cool ilustrations. I hope you like it and look forward to your replies, will this truly fly?

    Thanks,
    Pau


    Here is a link to the internet archive file: https://archive.org/details/howtobuild20foot00morg
    If i did it right there should be a file attached to this post wich contains the book, but i have never posted anything here so i don't know if it'll work, if it doesn't, the link avobe redirects you to the original file in the internet archive
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  2. #2
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Well... after just a quick skim through the book, let me make a few thoughts.

    1. About 1/3d of all homebuilt accidents begin with the loss of engine power. This glider doesn't have one of those.

    2. This glider is foot launched; you're not likely to get REAL high unless you jump off a cliff with it (don't do that). Note the long, gentle hills that the Wrights and Lilienthal used.

    3. This glider is NOT going to pull a lot of Gs, either positive or negative. If the glider can support your weight with the wingtips on sawhorses, you're not likely to have any structural issues in flight. It also uses wire bracing, which is VERY stout and reliable.

    4. Other than the period just after the first flight, the peak period for homebuilt aircraft mechanical-failure accidents is around 40 to 60 hours (and most of them are going to be engine-related). How long do you think it'd take to put 40 hours on such a glider?

    5. The big drawback is the lack of pilot protection. Look to the professional skateboarders' world for ideas for pilot protection...helmet, knee pads, shin guards, etc.

    6. The biggest threat is an attempt to expand the design past what it is made for...don't try to carry a passengers, and especially don't add an engine. Though I might be tempted with a little electric sustainer motor....

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    In short, I think this would be fun, fairly safe project. If I didn't have glass knees, I might be tempted myself....

    Ron Wanttaja

  3. #3
    ironnerd's Avatar
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    I dig it. It does look like a fun and reasonably safe (by experimental aviation standards) project.
    Just don't fly higher that you are willing to fall.
    John "J.P." Adams
    EAA 1379403

    I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.
    Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  4. #4
    Airmutt's Avatar
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    Kinda reinventing the wheel here. If you’re really interested in going down this path, why not look at some of the hang glider designs from the 70s like the Easy Riser.
    Dave Shaw
    EAA 67180 Lifetime
    Learn to Build, Build to Fly, Fly for Fun

  5. #5

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    Thanks Ron! Now i've heard your words I am sure 100% this is going to work!

  6. #6
    Dana's Avatar
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    I would repeat what @ironnerd said... go for it if you want to, but don't fly higher than you're willing to fall.

    We've learned a LOT about aerodynamics and structures since 1912. If you really want to fly, look at modern "airchair" gliders like Mike Sandlin's Basic Ultralight Gliders, which are FAR more capable and safe, and probably won't cost much more (maybe even less) than the materials specified in that 1912 book. In particular, wood of sufficient quality for aircraft structures is a lot scarcer and more expensive than it was back then.



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