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Caboolture Gliding Club

Soar like an eagle on silent wings in a friendly, cooperative club atmosphere from our base at Caboolture Airfield on Queensland's beautiful Sunshine Coast. New members and visitors are always welcome.

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Motor Blanik MkII

Another Bert Persson masterpiece of years gone by!

  

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In gliding mode with prop feathered.

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The cowl was open during engine run and closed on shut down.
 
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Digital video wasn't around in those days! The configuration shown wasn't too bad. However, imagine a wing-tip mount of the camera counter-balanced by a weight slung under the opposite wing (so as to be out of view) and then doing aerobatics!
 
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A somewhat younger Bert prepares his creation ...and then beats up the field ...see below!
 

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The following additional information was provided by Bruce Llewellyn in an email dated 10-Jul-12 (addressed to The President, Caboolture Gliding Club) ...

Re: Motor Blanik MkII

 It is good to see the Motor Blanik pictures on the club website.

The test flying took place during school holidays, so I was there with my father, Dafydd Llewellyn, when Bert did the hangar flypasts. This wasn’t a ‘beat up’ as such, it was usual by that stage to take off from the parking area rather than risk oiling up plugs taxi-ing all the way to the main runway. The hangar flypast photos on the website were taken by Dafydd Llewellyn, being the first frames on rolls later used for the takeoff performance tests. The originals are held in our files. Two different cameras were used, the shots are of two different flights on different days. Takeoff commenced on the hard standing outside the hangar doors, followed by a 270 degree turn to the left, remaining within the boundary of the parking area, so as to be able to make a safe landing from any point.

In the pictures, the aircraft is about to roll out to track along the normal taxiway. Because the hangar is higher than it looks, and the lens is used was around 52mm focal length, making the picture look a little more exciting than the event actually was. The aircraft was fitted with radio, and all the normal procedures were followed. This usually meant nothing more than a listening watch, since we were up before the sparrows the nearest thing in the air we had to worry about was at Tullamarine.

The air-to-air shot, as I recall, was taken by Dafydd Llewellyn from the back seat of one of the Sportavia tugs flown by Bill Riley. Bert positioned the Blanik for the air-to-air sequence for the purpose of recording the behaviour of the airflow on the pod. Because the speed and decent rate were set by the glider, the engine was off, but the glider had to formate on the camera aircraft to be in the right place, this was a very tricky piece of flying.

The shot used on the website is one of only a few from this sequence showing the whole aircraft. For the rest of that sequence Bill and Bert were flying close enough together for the wool tufts to be clearly recorded, so those shots show little more than the pod itself and the rear cockpit. The front-on shot of the engine pod is a little masterpiece in its own right, taken by holding the camera behind the head from the front cockpit.

I remember Bert working on the engine installation and the quality of the workmanship for what was, after all, a prototype. The air to air shots with the wool tufts show also the quality of finish. It wasn’t trouble free, some daily adjustments were needed and the engine used, a Rotax 505, really wasn’t big enough. Bert kept the engine in top tune however, and it was reliable.

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Bert Persson at the controls - picture taken by Dafydd Llewellyn 

I also remember the takeoff tests. Bill Riley was flying the Motorblanik with an apprentice in the back seat for ballast. Dafydd was on the cameras to record the fifty foot height, Bert, as I recall was marking the lift-off point. This usually requires some running around, and Bert did that because Bill had hip trouble. I was marking the start of roll and recording temperature and wind. The take-off tests started at first light, the temperature started at minus one and finished at plus one. The anemometer turned about ten times in total, giving a wind speed which amounted to zero. All this was done before breakfast and it was a real pleasure to go back to the Sportavia dining room and thaw out.

I flew the Motorblanik on the third of May 1984, with Herr Reinholdt in the back seat, performing eight circuits in forty minutes including having the instructor pull the power to simulate a rope break. While the aircraft was still very noisy inside, it was very comfortable to fly, though it did climb at a lower speed, around 50 knots, than the aero tow speed of 60 knots with the Citabria or Scout. This meant getting the nose down a lot quicker than with a real rope. The Motorblanik also came down rather more quickly than the normal version with the engine idling, the windmilling propeller giving a little more that the equivalent of half airbrake. At idle, with full brakes, the decent was similar in feel to an early IS28 with upper and lower surface brakes.

With the mass of the engine and associated hardware up top, the wing tended to drop quite heavily onto the ground at the end of the landing roll, a bit like a Grob 103.  The Motorblanik had the ‘standard’ Riley wingtip wheels and would therefore quite happily run wing down for take off and landing. The original steerable tail wheel was a menace, the combination of top heavy airframe and castering of the tail wheel  causing the aircraft to perform a drunken waddle. With a wing down it didn’t waddle, but it wouldn’t run straight either. The steerable wheel was replaced by a Riley fixed tail wheel. Turning was done simply by pushing the stick forward and using the rudder and wheel brake. There was a joke that the Motorblanik was the only L13 in the world with the wheel brake properly adjusted.

One modification that wasn’t foreseen was the need for a nose wheel. In the event that the aircraft stopped with the main wheel against a grass tussock, opening the throttle simply pitched the nose down until the steel bumper hit the ground. It was found that the aircraft would then not move, even at full power with full back stick. The tail would come down hard, regardless of elevator position when the power was reduced, which wasn’t desirable. On sandy ground, turning on the brake using forward stick and rudder sometimes dug a hole the aircraft couldn’t get out of. There were several push-backs during those days to ‘unstick’ the aircraft before Bert and Bill devised and installed the nose wheel.

I flew various normal Blaniks at various places over the following years, including GUG at Caboolture in 1991. It had been seventeen years since I last touched a Blanik, when the Re-life project began on the Bundaberg club aircraft, XQO, the first of the ‘new’ extended life Blaniks, where I had some very minor involvement in the fuselage jig and cockpit refurbishment. XQO has now returned to service.

The Motorblanik was a high point, in that I was involved in something new and unique and, in return, it gave me something I’d never had before. I learned to land in it!

Bruce Llewellyn.