I'm amazed at how popular hand-launched gliders (HLGs) are today
with all the very inexpensive radio control (R/C) models available.
Still, there is definitely no cheaper form of building and flying
that with HLGs. As with any form of free flight, gliders teach you
a lot about proper airframe configuration, weight and balance, and
trimming for optimal flight path and times. With control line (C/L)
and R/C flight a lot of poor trimming (or no trimming) can be compensated
for with pilot control input, but with free flight everything has
to be just right of performance will suffer profoundly. I don't
know if there's an 'Old Time' type competition category for hand-launched
gliders, but if there is, the Whisper will definitely qualify.
"Whisper" Hand-Launched Glider
If you're the outdoor type model flyer, then this zipsy-doodle
dandy is the thing for you. You'll have lots of fun with this little
fellow, thrills that'll make you want to shout. But don't, just
continue with a -
by Ernest Copeland
Author of "The Mosquito Sportster," etc.
This three-quarter side view displays the graceful
lines and well proportioned surfaces which make "Whisper" a glider
of outstanding performance.
Although not listed as a type in the AMA rules, catapult-launched
glider s are nevertheless widely used at local contests. For sport,
"sling shot" soaring offers a thrilling diversion from the old heave
and hope method. An extra "something" is required in the design
of this type of glider, since the speeds of the heavier jobs vary
from more than fifty miles an hour to the regular gliding speed
of less than fifteen miles an hour.
The heavy catapult gliders used for contest work are very sensitive
to adjustments and a beginner, flying one of these jobs for the
first time, would have a pretty fair chance of washing it out. It
was to give the novice necessary experience to prevent such occurrences
that "Whisper" was designed. With a span of only nine inches, "Whisper"
embodies on a miniature scale all the soaring qualities which the
big gliders possess.
Construction and Assembly
The small size of the pieces used in this glider make it possible
to utilize scrap balsa. All wood is selected quarter grained stock
and of the size indicated on the plan. Wings and tail surfaces should
be shaped from fairly soft balsa, while the fuselage is shaped from
heavier stock in order to take the knocks.
Make tracings of all the parts and cut them to outline shape.
The tail surfaces are sanded to a streamline pattern and the wings
to a conventional rib section. Sanding the surfaces should begin
with No. 3-0 sandpaper; use No. 10-0 later. This will give you a
beautiful satin-like finish which will help a lot in stretching
The fuselage should also be sanded smooth, and a headless pin
thrust into the wood and faired with a piece of 1/20" sheet balsa
will make the launching hook and complete the body.
In order to rig up the sweepback angle of the wing, first cut
the panel in half and carve a quarter inch wedge from the trailing
edge as shown on the plan. Cement generously when setting the dihedral
angle in the wing.
Just the right amount of dihedral and sweepback
assure you of lengthy flights under perfect control.
In assembling the glider, the tail surfaces and the wing must
be sanded to perfection before they're cemented to the fuselage
at 0-degrees incidence. Check for perfect alignment and be sure
all parts are clean and secure at the joints.
As soon as the glue has hardened and the weather is suitable,
take "Whisper" out for some test flying and real enjoyment.
Adjusting and Launching
As A preliminary step, release "Whisper" from shoulder level,
gradually adding clay to the nose until the glide is smooth and
free from "mushing" tendencies. It should be noted that in glider
work careful and patient adjustment is equally important as accurate
Designer Ernest Copeland demonstrates the catapult
launching method. Note the angle.
Using a one-foot loop of 1/8" rubber, try the first catapult
launch - but gently. The hand holding the rubber should be
held still until the ship has been released. Try various angles
of bank until you get the one most satisfactory for a smooth launch.
It is not necessary to point this glider straight up, since it climbs
of its own accord due to the excessive speed. Watch very carefully
the pull-out at the top of the climb, for this is where most of
the trouble of adjustment comes. If the ship rolls out too soon
and does a stall before starting to glide, remove some clay from
the nose and warp the elevators down. If it does not pull out soon
enough, add clay and warp elevators up. The wing will probably also
need warping to prevent "twisting" during the climb. Gradually increase
the speed of the launch and iron out the bugs.
Another catapult method suggested is to drive a stake into the
ground with a rubber strand tied to the top. The other end is attached
to the launching hook of the glider, and after stretched to its
maximum point the driving force of the rubber will be powerful.
If you learn all the tricks of adjusting "Whisper," there are
lots of thrills in store for you.
Whisper Hand-Launched Glider Plans
The AMA Plans Service offers a full-size
version of many of the plans show here at a very reasonable cost. They will scale the plans any size for you. It is always
best to buy printed plans because my scanner versions often have distortions that can cause parts to fit poorly. Purchasing
plans also help to support the operation of the Academy of Model
Aeronautics - the #1 advocate for model aviation throughout the world. If the AMA no longer has this plan on file, I
will be glad to send you my higher resolution version.
Try my Scale Calculator for Model Airplane Plans.
Posted September 5, 2015