Author Archive for Dick Butler

Growing up in the 1950's aviation was a highly visible and romantic thing, most little boys were fascinated with flight and Dick was no exception. This romance with aviation led to obtaining a degree in aeronautical engineering and accepting his first job as a wind tunnel test engineer for the Sverdrup Corporation. It was not until 1967 that he was able to experience the joy of soaring and obtain a glider pilot license. In 1968 Dick says he ordered and took delivery of his first sailplane, a K6E and shortly thereafter entered competitive soaring. His first time to represent the USA as a team member was in the open class in Finland 1975. Subsequently he represented the USA in the next three internationals with the last being in Hobbs, NM in 1983. At this point in his life he had to drop out of soaring to focus on his career and did not reenter soaring until 1999 when he retired from Sverdrup. It was not until 2006 that he was able to again make the USA team flying in Sweden and again in 2012 in Uvalde.

The “Eta Biter”: Dick Butler’s ASW-22DB

n the year 1999 I purchased a new ASW22BL after taking a leave from soaring for 15 years. The first shock I had in purchasing the ship was that it cost three times what my first ‘-22 cost in 1980, and the second was that it had basically the same performance. What I realized was that in the open class of competition sailplanes there had been no significant improvements in performace for the last 20 years, while the other sailplane classes had made significant performance increases from advances in both aerodynamics and structures.

Concordia Update: Finishing the Fuselage

Heinz Weissenbuehler of M&H Soaring had a long weekend with an out and return from Elmira, New York to Manchester, Tennessee to fetch the Concordia fuselage, driving over 1,800 miles and 26.5 hours. With structural work complete on the fuselage it is now time to enter the next phase of the fuselage construction–to finalize aerodynamic contouring and then painting.

Building Concordia-The Wing Control System

No one could have predicted the time and complexity involved in designing, building and installing the Concordia flight control systems. As discussed in preceding chapters, very few compromises were made in the Concordia wing design from the viewpoint of aerodynamics and handling qualities. On paper it was a lot of fun designing a supership and not having to worry about production time, associated costs, and being able to market the plane at a competitive price. In reality a lot of the design choices that were made to maximize competition performance came back to haunt us in the building and installation of controls.

Building Concordia-The Wing Spar Shear Web

The most critical area of shear web construction is the region between the main wing pins. Between the main wing pins the entire wing load must be counteracted through the shear web. Resolving this enormous load not only requires many layers of glass, known as “windings,” around the spar but also requires a large amount…

Building Concordia-The Wing Spar Flanges

In any sailplane, spar construction is critical for ensuring the structural integrity of the wing and overall safety of the sailplane. The spar design for Concordia is pushing the limits of what is possible while adhering to the CS22 design criteria. The design of a 28 meter span sailplane with a very thin airfoil and…

Building Concordia-The Wing Skin

Simultaneously with the build of the fuselage and vertical stabilizer, Christian Streifeneder and his father Hanko were busy in Germany building wing molds for Concordia. In hindsight one of the smart decisions made by Butler and Waibel was to convince the Streifeneders to be a part of the Concordia team and let them build the…

Building Concordia-The Vertical Stabilizer

The vertical stabilizer was constructed in a female mold made from low density foam. The foam mold was cut with a hot wire process using aluminum templates with airfoil coordinates generated by the Delft Institute of Technology. All wing and vertical stabilizer templates were cut using an NC laser cutter. The structure of the vertical…

Building Concordia-The Fuselage

[Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles by Dick and his collaborators on the construction of each major component of the Concordia. There’s much more to come. Watch this space!] The man-hours required to build a prototype sailplane with the level of complexity of Concordia is staggering. Like most large prototype…

Building Concordia-The Horizontal Stabilizer

As noted earlier in the design section when discussing handling qualities, the horizontal stabilizer was sized using criteria involving a dimensionless coefficient known as the horizontal tail volume coefficient. Based on known good handling qualities of other sailplanes and the value of their tail volume coefficients, one can size the horizontal tail for Concordia. With…

The Design of a Competition Sailplane

The design of an open class sailplane from a competition pilot’s viewpoint is relatively simple. Such a glider should have outstanding straight line and thermaling performance, good handling qualities, and a comfortable cockpit. The pilot may also want an engine since outlanding a 28 to 31 meter span ship can often get very interesting as well as putting himself and his placing in the competition at risk. Unfortunately each of these criteria is normally compromised in the end when designing a sailplane for production or, to put it more directly, when the business side of the equation is considered.