Protecting The Hughes H4 Hercules With… Beach Balls?

Ryan in the Spruce Goose pilot seat

While visiting the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, OR, USA over the weekend, I came across a hack.

In addition to the excellent displays on site and an area where one can watch a video on repeat, the museum offers guided tours for a very reasonable price. And it was during this tour that my life as an aviation geek changed forever. Why? I got to visit the flight deck of the H4 and even sit in the pilots seat where Howard Hughes sat when he flew the plane almost 75 years ago.

It was later in the tour, after I’d had a moment to take in the enormity of sitting in the seat, that I found a wonderful hack to share with you all: and it’s all about beach balls. Continue reading “Protecting The Hughes H4 Hercules With… Beach Balls?”

Airbus A380 Completes Flight Powered By Cooking Oil

Fossil fuels are making news for all the wrong reasons of late. Whether it’s their contribution to global climate change or the fact that the price and supply hinges on violent geopolitics, there are more reasons than ever to shift to cleaner energy sources.

In the world of aviation, that means finding a cleaner source of fuel. A test earlier this year took place in pursuit of that very goal, where an Airbus A380 airliner was flown solely on fuel derived from cooking oil.

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Fifty Motored Paraglider Partly Flies, Partly Glides

If there’s one thing you can count on [Peter Sripol] for, it’s for defining the the aviation category of “Don’t Try This At Home.” In the video below the break, [Peter] displays his latest terror of the skies: A powered paraglider backpack that has fifty electric motors. Does it fly? Yes. Was it a success? Eh… mostly.

As [Peter] even says in the video: Don’t try this at home. [Peter] has taken a paraglider, which is essentially a non-rigid fabric wing that to the untrained eye resembles a parachute, and powered it with fifty drone motors taken from other projects. Two motors each are mounted in a push/pull configuration inside a 5×5 array of 3d printed ducts.

While the experiment was essentially a success, it was also a failure due to not having enough power, too little battery life, and overall just not being that great. Does every experiment need to end in absolute success in order to have fun and learn lessons that can be applied to the next iteration? Definitely not! We applaud [Peter] for being willing to fail- although, we have to admit, failing is a lot easier when you’ve already got a parachute of sorts deployed!

Looking for some more don’t-try-this-at-home projects to gawk at? Look no further than [Colin Furze] who like [Peter],  has managed to gain his own Hackaday tag.

Continue reading “Fifty Motored Paraglider Partly Flies, Partly Glides”

Who Flew Across The Atlantic First? The Airborne Boats Of 1919

Aviation history is a bit strange. People tend to remember some firsts but not others and — sometimes — not even firsts. For example, everyone knows Amelia Earhart attempted to be the first woman to fly around the globe. She failed, but do you know who succeeded? It was Jerrie Mock. How about the first person to do it? Wiley Post, a name largely forgotten by the public. Charles Lindbergh is another great example. He was the first person to fly across the Atlantic, right? Not exactly. The story of the real first transatlantic flight is one of aviation hacking by the United States Navy.

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Wing Can Expand To Fly Really Slow For Short Take-Off And Landing

[Mike Patey] had made a name for himself by building high-performance experimental aircraft. In his latest project, he added a transforming wing that can extend its chord by up to 16 inches for low speed and high angle of attack performance.

The aircraft in question, a bush plane named Scrappy, has been attracting attention long before [Mike] even started building the wings. Designed for extremely short take-off and landing (STOL) performance, only some sections of the fuselage frame remain from the original Carbon Cub kit. The wings are custom designed and feature double slats on the leading edge, combined with large flaps and drooping ailerons on the trailing edge. The slats form an almost seamless part of the wing for normal flying, but can expand using a series of linkages integrated into each precision machine wing rib. Making extensive use of CFD simulations, the slats were designed to keep the center-of-lift close to the center of the wing, even with 50 degrees of flaps. Without the slats, the pilot would need to use almost all the elevator authority to counteract the flaps and keep the aircraft’s nose up.

Leading-edge slats have been around since before WW2, but you don’t see them used in pairs like this. Aircraft like Scrappy will never be commercially viable, but innovation by people like [Mike] drives aviation forward. [Mike]’s previous project plane, Draco, was a large turboprop bush plane built around a PZL-104 Wilga. Sadly it was destroyed during an ill-considered take-off in 2019, but [Mike] is already planning its successor, Draco-X. Continue reading “Wing Can Expand To Fly Really Slow For Short Take-Off And Landing”

Scrappy: Drag Racing Bush Plane

We like to feature hacks that are affordable and accessible to the average person, but from time to time it’s fun to dream about the projects we’ll tackle when we’re all grown up and stinking rich. [Mike Patey] appears to fall rather comfortably in the latter category, but thankfully he hasn’t lost his “excited kid with big plans” spirit. A talented and experienced experimental aircraft builder, he’s currently working on Scrappy, a small bush plane built to be a short take-off and landing drag racer.

Scrappy started life as a Carbon Cub, a modernized kit version of the venerable Piper Super Cub. The only thing left of the original plane is a part of the fuselage frame, with almost everything else being custom. The engine is a 780 cubic inch (13 liter) horizontally opposed 8-cylinder, scavenged from one of [Mike]’s racing planes, and fitting it required extensive structural changes to the fuselage. The paddle-like propeller was intended for an airboat, and is designed for high thrust at low speeds. The skin of the aircraft is all carbon fiber, and the suspension almost looks like it’s borrowed from an off-road racing truck. [Mike] also added (and test fired) a ballistic recovery parachute. The cockpit instruments are also over-the-top for an aircraft like this, with seven Garmin multi-function displays.

Scrappy is still missing its wings, which will also be heavily modified. From the oil-cooling system to the door latch and gust-lock for the stick, everything was designed and made by [Mike]. We’re enjoying the in-depth build videos that show how he tackles all the little challenges that pop-up in such an ambitious project.

[Mike] made a name for himself with his previous monster bush plane Draco, which was sadly destroyed during an ill-considered take-off last year. Fortunately nobody was harmed in the incident, and Draco became a part donor for Scrappy. If budget planes are more your style, check out [Peter Sripol]’s latest electric microlight.

Continue reading “Scrappy: Drag Racing Bush Plane”

Peter Sripol’s DIY Electric Ultralight MK4

Peter Sripol really likes building gravity defying death traps. He recently flew the fourth ultralight, which he designed and built himself. For a taste of what’s going on here, the wings have aluminum tube spars and are made of hot-wire-cut styrofoam sections.

To keep the plane simple, he got rid of ailerons entirely. For roll stabilization he angled up the wings noticeably, adding dihedral. This gives the aircraft passive stability, because as it rolls to a side, the upper wing’s lift decreases and the lower wing’s lift increases, forcing the plane to correct itself. Interestingly he kept the rudder controls on pedals instead of moving it to the stick, so the stick only controls the elevator.

It is powered by a single large brushless electric motor borrowed from the OpenPPG project. On the first test he used a two-bladed propeller, with a small pitch angle which required full throttle to keep flying. It can be compared to driving a car only in first gear. By moving to a three bladed propeller with a higher pitch angle, and increasing the length of the wings for more lift, [Peter] was able to cruise comfortably at about 30 MPH or 48 km/h.

Although this aircraft definitely performed better than [Peter]’s previous ultralight builds, piloting something like this isn’t for the faint of heart. Although he does extensive weight-loading and thrust testing before taking to the air, adding tail weight to piloted aircraft by simply taping a water bottle to the tail just felt wrong. But we aren’t aviation experts, so we won’t pass final judgement.