Traditional vs Ultralight Le Fish Compared in Flight
Traditional vs Ultralight Builds of Le Fish Aerobatics Glider from surfimp on Vimeo.
Got a chance to fly Ellwood in 12-15mph wind, which is quite a bit stronger than usual, and coming in offcenter from the right. I had both my traditionally-built Le Fish as well as my ultralight-built version, so I took some video of each flying to help illustrate the differences in how they fly. The flying itself is nothing special, but I hope it helps show how differently the design flies at each weight.
The traditionally built Le Fish is the original prototype that first flew back in 2006. It weighs 38oz and is covered in Solartex and Ultracote, along with thinned Goop both under and over the covering for extra durability. It has a traditional fixed elevator. Overall, the lift allowed it to fly pretty nicely, but it felt very heavy on the sticks compared to what I’ve become used to from the ultralights. It’s nowhere near as agile, which is to be expected since it’s more than twice as heavy.
The ultralight built Le Fish was first flown in the summer of 2011 and weighs 17oz. It is covered in laminating film and has a Madslide-inspired full flying stabilizer capable of about 150* of travel, allowing for tight flip maneuvers. It too enjoyed the lift conditions, although like with the heavier Le Fish the offcenter wind direction wasn’t optimal. It’s clear that the ultralight plane is much more agile, though with less energy retention, than the heavier plane. Again, to be expected given the weight difference between the two.
Overall, for me and the kind of flying I’m interested in doing today, the ultralight plane is a far better match. The heavy Le Fish was flying OK in these conditions but really would’ve come alive had the wind direction been more straight-in. The light Le Fish, by comparison, was quite happy to fly in a small space and perform trick after trick, able to be manipulated into all sorts of interesting situations thanks to its light weight and extremely low inertia. Honestly it’s a totally different philosophy of aerobatic slope flying, something that comes from flying the Dream-Flight Weasel and Alula more than any other influence. I dig it! 🙂