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"Whisper" Hand-Launched Glider - Article & Plans
February 1941 Flying Aces

February 1941 Flying Aces

Flying Aces February 1941 - Airplanes and Rockets Table of Contents

These pages from vintage modeling magazines like Flying Aces, Air Trails, American Modeler, American Aircraft Modeler, Young Men, Flying Models, Model Airplane News, R/C Modeler, captured the era. All copyrights acknowledged.

I'm amazed at how popular hand-launched gliders (HLGs) are today with all the very inexpensive radio control (R/C) models available. Still, there is definitely no cheaper form of building and flying that with HLGs. As with any form of free flight, gliders teach you a lot about proper airframe configuration, weight and balance, and trimming for optimal flight path and times. With control line (C/L) and R/C flight a lot of poor trimming (or no trimming) can be compensated for with pilot control input, but with free flight everything has to be just right of performance will suffer profoundly. I don't know if there's an 'Old Time' type competition category for hand-launched gliders, but if there is, the Whisper will definitely qualify.

"Whisper" Hand-Launched Glider

If you're the outdoor type model flyer, then this zipsy-doodle dandy is the thing for you. You'll have lots of fun with this little fellow, thrills that'll make you want to shout. But don't, just continue with a -

by Ernest Copeland

Author of "The Mosquito Sportster," etc.

Well proportioned surfaces which make "Whisper" a glider of outstanding performance - Airplanes and Rockets

This three-quarter side view displays the graceful lines and well proportioned surfaces which make "Whisper" a glider of outstanding performance.

Although not listed as a type in the AMA rules, catapult-launched glider s are nevertheless widely used at local contests. For sport, "sling shot" soaring offers a thrilling diversion from the old heave and hope method. An extra "something" is required in the design of this type of glider, since the speeds of the heavier jobs vary from more than fifty miles an hour to the regular gliding speed of less than fifteen miles an hour.

The heavy catapult gliders used for contest work are very sensitive to adjustments and a beginner, flying one of these jobs for the first time, would have a pretty fair chance of washing it out. It was to give the novice necessary experience to prevent such occurrences that "Whisper" was designed. With a span of only nine inches, "Whisper" embodies on a miniature scale all the soaring qualities which the big gliders possess.

Construction and Assembly

The small size of the pieces used in this glider make it possible to utilize scrap balsa. All wood is selected quarter grained stock and of the size indicated on the plan. Wings and tail surfaces should be shaped from fairly soft balsa, while the fuselage is shaped from heavier stock in order to take the knocks.

Make tracings of all the parts and cut them to outline shape. The tail surfaces are sanded to a streamline pattern and the wings to a conventional rib section. Sanding the surfaces should begin with No. 3-0 sandpaper; use No. 10-0 later. This will give you a beautiful satin-like finish which will help a lot in stretching the glides.

The fuselage should also be sanded smooth, and a headless pin thrust into the wood and faired with a piece of 1/20" sheet balsa will make the launching hook and complete the body.

In order to rig up the sweepback angle of the wing, first cut the panel in half and carve a quarter inch wedge from the trailing edge as shown on the plan. Cement generously when setting the dihedral angle in the wing.

Just the right amount of dihedral and sweepback - Airplanes and Rockets

Just the right amount of dihedral and sweepback assure you of lengthy flights under perfect control.

In assembling the glider, the tail surfaces and the wing must be sanded to perfection before they're cemented to the fuselage at 0-degrees incidence. Check for perfect alignment and be sure all parts are clean and secure at the joints.

As soon as the glue has hardened and the weather is suitable, take "Whisper" out for some test flying and real enjoyment.

Adjusting and Launching

As A preliminary step, release "Whisper" from shoulder level, gradually adding clay to the nose until the glide is smooth and free from "mushing" tendencies. It should be noted that in glider work careful and patient adjustment is equally important as accurate construction.

Ernest Copeland demonstrates the catapult launching method - Airplanes and Rockets

Designer Ernest Copeland demonstrates the catapult launching method. Note the angle.

Using a one-foot loop of 1/8" rubber, try the first catapult launch -  but gently. The hand holding the rubber should be held still until the ship has been released. Try various angles of bank until you get the one most satisfactory for a smooth launch.

It is not necessary to point this glider straight up, since it climbs of its own accord due to the excessive speed. Watch very carefully the pull-out at the top of the climb, for this is where most of the trouble of adjustment comes. If the ship rolls out too soon and does a stall before starting to glide, remove some clay from the nose and warp the elevators down. If it does not pull out soon enough, add clay and warp elevators up. The wing will probably also need warping to prevent "twisting" during the climb. Gradually increase the speed of the launch and iron out the bugs.

Another catapult method suggested is to drive a stake into the ground with a rubber strand tied to the top. The other end is attached to the launching hook of the glider, and after stretched to its maximum point the driving force of the rubber will be powerful.

If you learn all the tricks of adjusting "Whisper," there are lots of thrills in store for you.

Whisper HLG Plans - Airplanes and Rockets

Whisper Hand-Launched Glider Plans


The AMA Plans Service offers a full-size version of many of the plans show here at a very reasonable cost. They will scale the plans any size for you. It is always best to buy printed plans because my scanner versions often have distortions that can cause parts to fit poorly. Purchasing plans also help to support the operation of the Academy of Model Aeronautics - the #1 advocate for model aviation throughout the world. If the AMA no longer has this plan on file, I will be glad to send you my higher resolution version.

Try my Scale Calculator for Model Airplane Plans.



Posted September 5, 2015

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