There have been three projects in New Zealand, all of unconventional configuration; two of the aeroplanes made flights under tow.
FROST EMMETT HPA 197? -1979 and 1984
The machine was partly constructed in the 1970s by John Frost. The structure was aluminium tube with a maze of bracing wires and control was by wing-warping, similar to the Condors of the same period. The wing was covered with Dacron, a heavier material than Melinex, and the wing-area was only a third of the Condor. Span was 80 ft (24.4 m) with a wing area of 250 sq ft (23.2 m2), and empty weight was 92.4 lb (42 Kg). Configuration was flying wing. Frost died in 1979 before the craft was complete and the machine became the property of the Auckland branch of the RAeS. In 1983 it was handed over to University of Auckland.
UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND 1984
In 1984 Grant D. Shirreffs and Daniel S. Steinemann of the University of Auckland made a two-pronged attack on the problem of HPF. One was to complete and test the Emmett HPA and the other was to further develop the propeller design algorithm of Prof. Larrabee mentioned above.
Flight trials at RNZAF Base Auckland, Hobsonville, were made with the aircraft towed behind a car. The aircraft proved extremely difficult to fly. Lateral control was totally inadequate, and a wingtip dropping on take-off could not be corrected. Shirreffs reports " This control mechanism would not be recommended for future HPA" . However he recognises that ".. the structural design concept was arrived at simultaneously by MacCready and Frost ...".
A Fortran computer-program was written for minimum induced loss propeller design. Shirreffs notes the difficulty in obtaining aerofoil data for angles of incidence beyond the stall. A listing of this program is in Shirreffs report to the University. (Report PME 84/041, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Auckland)
NZHPFG "ROYAL SPOONBILL" HPA 1983 to 1987
This ambitious design was for a three-seater aircraft, the pilots in separate pods, like the Newbury Manflier. Proposed wingspan for the "Royal Spoonbill" was 328 ft (100 m). Robert Le Johnno-Johnson initiated the "New Zealand Human Powered Flight Group", or "Squadron" in 1983. He applied to the RAeS for entry into Kremer Competitions on headed notepaper and challenged the Daedalus to a race. The group built special workshop equipment including a vacuum-table for curing resin on Kevlar tubes and angle joints, but not all of the Royal Spoonbill ever existed as hardware. When the plane was quarter built in 1985, the workshop was vandalised. At this stage the group took the opportunity of a redesign. However, the workshop was closed down and the squadron disbanded on 12th March 1987.
DON WALTHER 1982 to 1987
Don Walther of Christchurch, New Zealand was an ex-RNZAF-pilot. Between 1982 and 1987 he built a machine called the "Boffin Coffin". This machine had a wingspan of 45 feet (13.7 m). The planform was unconventional, with a forward wing of 140 sq ft (13 m2)and a rear-wing of 120 sq ft (11 m2). Weight was 126 lb (57 Kg), materials were resin-laminated aluminium-alloy sheet, EPS and Melinex. Pilot position was prone, i.e. head first. There was a shock absorber in the drive between the rear-wheel and the prop. Flight trials were made at Wigram Air Base Christchurch with a car towing the plane. After the first flight, piloted by 65 year old Walther, he said ".. when I took my eyes off the tiller and looked down I was looking down on the roof of the car. The aircraft came down very lightly, but I could hardly call it a controlled flight. It is a mystery just how much control there is with these ailerons on the front wing - how much they contributed to my safe landing and how much was pure luck.". Even the three foot long main undercarriage leg survived this first landing, but after its second launch it landed tail-first causing damage. Further flight attempts were made in 1987 under pedal-power by younger pilots, Steven Preest and Trent Hiles. Don Walther writes (January 1990), " The steady easterly breezes which blow over Wigram Airbase make it unsuitable for HP flights. " Even in the hangar " The hangar doors had been left open and a blast of wind shot the machine backwards into a wall. I gave up repairing ", as in any event ," it received damage from time to time by people not familiar with the delicate nature of these aircraft.". Walther abandoned the project in July 1988.
To date, the only human powered flight south of the equator has been the single flight of the Vine in Africa in 1962. (what about the Skycycle in Tasmania? - Editor)