It is unusual to have home built
gliders in the UK and most are early vintage machines being rebuilt from
the original plans. However, occasionally we get an enthusiast and in
this case it was Mike Garrod, a well known pilot and meteorologist from
the London Gliding Club at Dunstable.
||My chance to fly it came when it was brought to Lasham for the initial
test flights. Lasham has a long, smooth main runway and plenty of
grass areas for use in the event of any initial problems. Mike had
decided on the Eaglet because it offered the possibility of self-launching
and easy, one man rigging so that he would be able to fly independently
of club launching facilities whenever he could snatch time off between
his shifts at the Met Office nearby.
I seem to remember that our BGA Technical Committee had called for
a number of modifications before giving it a permit for test flying
and even after they had agreed to it flying, we all had a few misgivings.
There were many novel features on the Eaglet. For a start it had an inverted
V-tail, a feature seldom if ever seen before on a glider. The pod and
boom fuselage was similar to the early Baby Bowlus with glass-fibre cockpit
mouldings with alloy tubes for the load carrying structure and a simple
thin walled aluminium tube for the tail boom. It also featured a straight,
parallel chord wing with no dihedral and spoilers in place of ailerons
for lateral control. These must reduce the torsion loads on the wing caused
when the ailerons are deflected as well as reducing the building time
considerably. The wing structure was also unusual - it had wooden spars,
a foam supported glass-fibre skin and a single aluminium tube strut each
side to take the major flight and landing loads.
Using spoilers in place of ailerons has the advantage of simplicity but
also creates extra drag as well as a reduction in lift, so reducing the
need for much rudder movement to help entering the turns. At that time,
I had never flown with spoilers instead of ailerons and had no idea how
effective they would be.
Appeared very vulnerable to damage
on rough ground
The inverted V-tail gave the doubtful advantage of helping to keep the
wings level on the ground, but appeared very vulnerable to damage on rough
ground. I was shown the original metal frame which takes the loads from
the tails into the fuselage boom. It was very crudely formed, or should
I say hacked out of thick alloy, and would have failed by cracking from
one of the jagged edges. No doubt the builder was intended to filed it
all out to a smooth contour, but there was really scarcely enough meat<