|Gliders Flown As Kites||Scouts To The Skies|
It is expected that the Gliders-Flown-As-Kites Station will be very popular at Scouts To The Skies. The space between the very large buildings at NAES Lakehurst provides nearly-constant winds that should lift even very inefficient gliders. Wind velocity measurements should be available at the station during operation. The Wright Brothers chose the location at Kitty Hawk to test there gliders for the same reason, except the conditions there were natural rather than man-made.
1900 glider flying as a kite (jpg 48 kB)
Wilbur and Orville Wright flying 1901 glider as a kite (jpg 36 KB)
Launching the Wright 1901 Glider (jpg 44kB)
At Lakehurst, Scouts will be able to perform flight tests in exactly the same manner as the Wright Brothers did in their early tests. The Wrights made many tests with various configurations and measured what we would now call lift and drag, before building man-carrying gliders and eventually their powered flyer. It is important to note that the Wrights flew their man-carrying gliders as kites, with dummies as weight, before trying any man-carrying flights.
Participants in the Gliders-Flown-As-Kites Station will have three objectives:
(1) Build a full-scale or large-scale replica glider that can be used for photo opportunities on the ground. The glider can be an individual, Den, Patrol, Pack, or Troop project.
(2) If possible, build a model that actually lifts off the ground.
(3) If possible, measure the lift that the model provides. The Wright Brothers used a small spring scale. Other possibilities include adding known weights to the model. Weights must be securely fastened. For practical purposes in this kind of outdoor testing, lift usually needs to be at least several pounds to make any measurements.
Models need to be tethered or held at all times.
Models must be restricted to fly no more than about 8-12 feet above the ground.
No human riders can be on board, when in actual flight.
Hargrave Kite (jpg 29kB)
The departure from a traditional kite design to a true glider design can be fixed rather precisely with the 1893 Box Kite designed by Lawrence Hargrave, often referred to as the Hargrave Kite. Hargrave made two major breakthroughs with this design. First he discovered that a curved wing provided much greater lift than a flat wing. Second he discovered that a double-celled design provided very great stability in flight. The Wright Brothers based their flyer on the Hargrave Kite as did most European aircraft for many years.
Lawrence Hargrave and kites
Kites 'R Us! History of Kites
Although related, the Hargrave Kite is significantly different than the modern box kites that are widely available today. Keep in mind that Hargrave linked four of his kites to a sling seat and lifted himself 16 feet above the ground to hover in the breeze. Another big advantage of Hargrave Kites is that they usually can be quickly assembled on site and quickly disassembled for transport into a small package.
Dan Beard, one of the principal organizers of the Boy Scouts of America, was a serious kite researcher as were Benjamin Franklin, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Alexander Graham Bell. He developed many plans for boys to build easy and inexpensive projects. His plans for a Hargraves Kite can be found below.
Here are some suggested resources online for plans to build gliders flown as kites. Many other possibilities can be found. Note that larger projects like the 1902 Wright Glider and the Popular Mechanics Glider could be built to less than full-scale. Modern materials can be substituted for original early-twentieth-century materials in all cases.
WARNING: THE 1902 WRIGHT GLIDER, THE POPULAR MECHANICS GLIDER, AND SIMILAR WRIGHT-ERA GLIDERS SHOULD BE BUILT ONLY FOR PHOTO OPPORTUNITES. IN RARE CASES SOME OF THESE AIRCRAFT CAN BE FLOWN AS KITES, BUT THEY ARE VERY INEFFICIENT AND UNSTABLE DESIGNS. THEY SHOULD NEVER BE FLOWN WITH HUMAN RIDERS AT ANY TIME.
Hargrave Kite by Dan Beard (very easy)
Lawrence Hargrave Kite Replica (easy)
1899 Wright Kite (medium)
1902 Wright Glider Plans (challenging)
The Popular Mechanics Glider (very challenging)