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Gossamer Albatross


The Albatross had grown out of the Condor’s success but it is in a number of ways a very different craft — utilising carbon fibre reinforced plastic tubing for wing spars, bowsprit and gondola to produce a light, strong structure. The fuselage gondola and flying surfaces are covered by a Mylar plastic film, attached by double-sided adhesive tape with wing ribs cut from expanded polystyrene foam. Its 28.3-m (93-ft) wing could be broken down into four sections for ease of transport, and had instruments - an airspeed sensor driven by a tiny propeller mounted on the foreplane bowsprit, and an 'altimeter' developed from the automatic focusing device of a Polaroid camera.
Control of-the aircraft is effected by an all-moving canard and by wing-warping.

This 75 lb aircraft, flown and powered by 140 lb Bryan Allen, conquered the English Channel in 2 hours 49 minutes at a speed of some 11 knots in June 1979. Instrumenta-tion is down to the basics of an airspeed indicator and an altimeter — neither of which proved essential when, in the latter half of the Channel-crossing, flat batteries mean a loss of readings.

Wing span: 93 ft 10 in.


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