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Skyhook Orion


Single-seat single-engined high-wing monoplane with two-axis control. Wing has swept back leading and trailing edges, and tapering chord; no tail, canard wing. Pitch control by fully flying canard; yaw/roll control by angled pivot tip rudders; control inputs through stick for pitch and yaw/roll. Wing braced from above by kingpost and cables, from below by cables; wing profile Clark Y derived; 100% double-surface. Undercarriage has three wheels in tricycle formation; no suspension on nosewheel and suspension (type to be decided) on main wheels. Push-right go-right nose-wheel steering independent from yaw control. Brakes on main wheels.

Aluminium-tube and fabric fuselage, totally enclosed. Engine mounted below wing driving pusher propeller. Windscreen made from rigid plastic sheet, side windows from Mylar film. Bainbridge Dacron used for flying surfaces.

Designer Len Gabriels has aimed to create a machine which will appeal to hang-gliding and sailplane enthusiasts as well as microlighters, and in its initial form the machine is unpowered.

As first shown at the British Hang Gliding Association's annual general meeting in March 1983, the Orion is a fully enclosed hang-glider/sailplane with pitch control by weight-shift moving a fully flying canard. Combined roll and yaw control is provided by tip rudders mounted under the ends of the wing and with their pivots angled at 45 deg to the vertical, so that they provide roll at the same time as yaw. Both may be deployed simultaneously, to provide air braking.

This unpowered version of the Orion uses two wheels in tandem without suspension or brakes and is basically intended as a foot-launched aircraft. Powered versions, however, will have a tricycle layout with the weight-shift pitch control being replaced by a stick. Pedals will steer the nosewheel but will not be connected to the yaw/roll control. Retention of the weight-shift pitch control will be an option.

The wing is based on a Clark Y section, though as it is to some degree a flex-wing, it will probably not behave entirely as a Clark Y in the air.

As a hang-glider, in April 1983, test flights in unpowered form were about to begin.

Length overall 12.0 ft, 3.66 m
Wing span 42.0 ft, 12.80 m
Chord at root 5.0ft, 1.52m
Chord at tip 3.0ft, 0.91m
Canard span 12.0 ft, 3.66 m
Canard chord 2.0 ft, 0.61 m
Total wing area 176 sq.ft, 16.4 sq.m
Main wing area 152 sq.ft, 14.1 sq.m
Canard area 24sq.ft, 2.2sq.m
Wing aspect ratio 9.5/1
Empty weight 154 lb, 70 kg


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