HP-24 Project

Update 10 March 2003: Some Assembly Required

Last Monday, I took a vacation day and drove down to the composites shop where the first article forward fuselage is being molded. I helped Harald break the pod out of the mold, and set it up on a dolly. One interesting and painful thing I learned is that composite moldings build up a substantial static potential between themselves and their molds. When you separate the two, there are lots of sparks and zappages.

The best thing about that trip was getting to sit in the fuselage. That was a great feeling. It was nice and roomy. I'm 5'8", and sitting straight up against the wheel well bulkhead and stretching my legs out straight left about two feet of distance between my feet and the very nose of the fuselage. My head was not even to the crown line of the canopy. And there's going to be even more room there when we get the fuselage interior worked out to recline the pilot and raise their knees.

We took some photos of me in the fuselage, but we haven't got them downloaded out of the camera yet.

One detail I've just attacked is the provision for a rubber sealing strip on the canopy frame. On the way back from Tehachapi I spent a couple of hours at an Orchard Supply Hardware store, seeing what's commonly available in seal strips. I ended up selecting a P-section seal strip that you can cut the leg off of to make into a D-section. Here's the guidance sketch for the trench in which the seal strip will get installed.

I'm still collecting parts and materials for laying up the tail and wing plugs. This weekend I collected several yards of peel ply (cheap 100% polyester cloth from Wal Mart), breather cloth (cheap quilt batting from Wal Mart) and three types of disposable gloves. This afternoon I'm ordering about 60 yards of glass cloth in two different weights from a composite discounter place in Los Angeles.

On the philosophical front, I'm beginning to think that I'll adopt a somewhat innovative approach to positioning the HP-24. And I think this might rub a few sailplane homebuilders the wrong way, so I want to be clear about what I'm doing and what I mean by it.

Going forward, I'd like to downplay the "kit" and "homebuilt" aspects of the HP-24. Yes, it's still a kit sailplane. Yes, it's still designed to be built by amateurs under the applicable "substantial portion" rules that allow for certification as Experimental, Amateur-Built aircraft. However, the idea that most people have about homebuilt aircraft is that they never get finished, and their builders are more interested in building than in flying. Not that enjoying the building process is a bad thing, mind you. But in order to sell lots of these things, I need a wider appeal among people who intend to merely tolerate the building process for only such time as is required to get into the air and go soaring.

Accordingly, in the future I'd like to minimise references to the HP-24 as a "kit" or "homebuilt," and instead substitute the phrase "some assembly required." Everybody groans at it, but nobody makes it a big issue, since that would undermine their credibility as a tool-bearing mammal. You don't buy furniture "Kits" at ikea or lawnmower "kits" at Sears, eh? But you also do not expect to get a huge box with a ready-to-sit-on sofa or ready-to-run lawnmower.

I'd really like to hear from anyone who is offended by this approach, or who thinks that this might be a bad idea. I can always use all the feedback I can get. Please send me an email if you have any strong feelings about it one way or the other.

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page updated 10 March 2003 all text and graphics copyright (c) 2003 HP Aircraft, LLC