Monday, 16 February 2009

A pedal-powered Doodlebug?


Only a couple of years older than me in 1985, Rupert Sweet-Escott, 23, had already been flying for ten years! I'd wasted several years in a cult, had achieved almost nothing at all, worked in a bookshop and could barely afford to make the odd balsa model of a Westland Lysander, while this chap had already been a gliding instructor and built several aircraft, including a series of Nomads, prone-piloted powered hang gliders of his own design!

That is inspiring!

Now 47, he is producing some kind of pedal-powered hang-glider. There are few details on his site, but I have written to him and hope to know more soon. Sounds really interesting. (update - exchanged email this a.m., 17th Feb. Following two pics provided by Rupert himself)

"The mechanism is very simple:
Bevel gears to change thrust direction, a flexi shaft for the supine version and away you go"
says Ru.

Rupert just told me that he is the holder of the Welsh record for distance and duration!!!

Coincidentally, I have been reading about a pedal powered aircraft, the Musfly, that David Cook was working on in 1979, the year I took 'O' levels. Sadly, the project was abandoned, but something Cook says in the book, Flying From My Mind, really struck a chord,

"I was beginning to think that what already existed wasn't necessarily always right and often the way forward is not to be influenced by the knowledge of other people, but to believe in one's own designs"

It seems to me that Sweet-Escott has that attitude too and it really chimes with mine, and I can't wait to see what comes of it. "Ru" tells me there is even a chance that the Nomad, which had push right, go right stearing at the feet, may go back into production.

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