A foot-launched powered hang glider (FLPHG), also called powered harness, nanolight, or hangmotor, is a powered hang glider harness with a motor and propeller in pusher configuration. An ordinary hang glider is used for its wing and control frame, and the pilot can foot-launch from a hill or from flat ground, needing a length of about a football field to get airborne, or much less if there is an oncoming breeze and no obstacles.
While powered microlights (ultralights) developed from hang gliding in the late 1970s, they were also a return to the type of low-speed aircraft that were common in the earlier years of aviation, but which were superseded as both civil and military aircraft pursued more speed. For a second time in aviation history, during the 1970s, motorization of simple gliders, especially those portable and foot-launched, became the goal of many inventors and gradually, small wing-mounted power packs were adapted. These early experiments went largely unrecorded, even in log books, let alone the press, because the pioneers were uncomfortably aware that the addition of an engine made the craft liable to registration, airworthiness legislation, and the pilot liable to expensive licensing and probably, insurance. Inventors from Australia, France and England produced several successful microlight motor gliders in the early 1970s and very few were portable wings.
Surprisingly, what really launched the powered ultralight aviation movement in the United States was not the Rogallo flexible wing but a whole series of rigid-wing motorized hang gliders. The Icarus V flying wing appeared with its tip rudders and swept-back style wing was used as a base for some powered experiments. Differently, a rigid biplane designed also by teenager Taras Kiceniuk, Jr-the Icarus II-was a foundation for a modification in Larry Mauro's UFM Easy Riser which biplane started to sell in large numbers; Larry Mauro would power his tail-less biplane; one version was solar powered called the Solar Riser. Hang gliding record holder Don Mitchell fitted his BF-10 with a motor, though he still used the pilot's legs as undercarriage, an arrangement which persisted until his B-10 Mitchell Wing appeared.
In 1963 and during his free time, aeronautical engineer Barry Palmer built and experimented with a foot-launched powered hang glider at Bloomfield, Connecticut. It was powered by a 7 hp (5 kW) West Bend engine and mounted on top of a Rogallo-type flexible wing hang glider; the propeller was 3 feet (1 m) in diameter and was made of balsa wood, covered with fiberglass and mounted in pusher configuration. However, the engine was quite underpowered and the craft could not achieve flight. It is now estimated that a modern flexible Rogallo wing hang glider requires at least 6 hp (4 kW) at the prop shaft and about 45 lbf (200 N) of thrust just to maintain level flight. During 1967 Barry Palmer built what is likely the first weight-shift powered trike aircraft.
On March 15, 1975 John Moody successfully added a 12.5 hp (9 kW) West Bend engine with a 71 cm (28 in) propeller to an UFM Easy Riser biplane hang glider designed by Larry Mauro. Moody opened the throttle and ran until he lifted from the frozen surface of a lake west of Racine, Wisconsin, and he flew for 30 minutes. Then on July 27, 1976 John Moody demonstrated ultralight aviation at the annual EAA fly-in convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, with a foot launched McCulloch 101 powered Icarus II in front of thousands of spectators, starting the modern ultralight aviation revolution in the United States. Later he added wheels to the aircraft and by the end of 1979, there were almost 100 competing companies selling powered ultralights (microlights) but very few were foot-launchable.
In 1979, a powered backpack called the Motolotnia - White Eagle, designed by Jerzy Kolecki, became available for sale. It consisted of a 90 cc McCulloch chainsaw engine with a direct drive 61 cm (24") wooden prop, producing a quoted 77 lbf (340 N) of thrust; the rate of climb was about 150 ft/min (0.76 m/s) and flight duration was limited by the small fuel tank and engine overheating after several minutes.
Other powered harnesses to reach the market in the 1980s were The Ranger and the Relax 220.
As of 2008, there are a few harness designs similar to the Swedish Aerosport Mosquito each sporting unique strengths, and produced by other FLPHG manufacturers. The latest generation of powered harnesses bear names such as Wasp, Flylight Doodle Bug, Raven, X1, Zenon, Airtime Explorer, Fillo, and Flyped.
La Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) is the international standard-setting and record-keeping body for aeronautics and astronautics, so it also oversees the official records by foot-launched powered hang gliders, currently under the RWF1 category.
Unofficial FLPHG World Records - Confirmed but not validated by the FAI.
Currently, there are two harness configurations: prone (face down) and supine (sitting). Both configurations allow the pilot to takeoff and land on his/her feet. Foot-launched powered hang glider (FLPHG) harnesses are built around a light metal frame with the engine and propeller mounted on the rear in a pusher configuration. Current powered harnesses weigh 22–32 kg (50-70 lb) not including the safety parachute and fuel, and fold neatly into a 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) long harness bag with a handle. Most powered harnesses in production are equipped with the 'Radne Raket 120' two stroke engine which is based on Husqvarna XP3120 chainsaw parts. It has a displacement of 118 cubic centimetres (7.2 cu in) and produces about 15 hp (11 kW) at 8900 RPM if equipped with a tuned exhaust; when coupled to a 1:3.5 belt-driven reduction drive and a 52" x 22" propeller, it produces about 100 lbf (440 N) of static thrust. For heavy pilots or pilots operating from higher than 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) MSL fields, a powered harness equipped with an 18 hp (13 kW) engine is recommended.
Types of aircraft by methods of thrust and lift
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