Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Trying to Learn Tumblewing Not Easy

Each year that I teach my College for Kids class “Engineering Through Models” I try to test out some new activity while dropping some activity done in the past. Sometimes the activity looks promising with some tweaking for the next year and other years I drop the activity.

Successful Tumblewing Flying

This year I tried to introduce the “tumblewing” walk along activity. It is very inexpensive, quick to build, and lots of fun when it works properly. It does however take some fine adjustments and mastery of the technique to make it work properly. With many years of experience adjusting model airplanes it took me some effort to get a tumblewing flying successfully for any length of time. 

Proper Way to Launch

The tumblewing is just a piece of lightweight paper cut in a rectangular shape with the edges bent up in a manner that it will spin around a horizontal axis. You launch it to start the spin and then approach with large flat piece of material such as cardboard or foamboard and push a wave of air to keep the tumble wing spinning in the wave of air only a few inches away from the board. 

FPG9 Glider Works Well For Almost Everyone - I Start With This

To make this work the tumble wing needs to be bent properly, you have to launch it so it is spinning, and then you need to approach with the board just so as not create too much turbulence yet maintain the wave of air needed to keep it flying. At this point you need to adjust your walking speed and tilt the board to control the direction.  

Cutting Out FPG-9 Gliders

One student was getting the idea but most just could not make it work, became frustrated, and quit. I was not able to help them fast enough to head off the frustration. It was a good lesson to me that even though I can do an activity, being able to teach it effectively is much more difficult.  I need a better idea of what is not correct and how to fix it. 

Being able to master a difficult task through a process of figuring out what needs to be corrected and then making the small corrections is one of the most useful skills that I can think of.  Any form of model aviation no doubt will require this to master. I plan to bring in a couple of very lightweight foam walkalong gliders today to give the students a chance to try to have some success. I plan to have them try it one at a time so I might be able to offer individual assistance.

Bill Kuhl


Walkalong Glider and Foam Store - many options available to purchase foam or gliders even RTF proceeds go to The Physics Factory 

Science Toymaker Website - Slater Harrison

Walkalong Gliders Book - Phil Rossoni   

Darcy Whyte - Inventor/Artist has done much with walkalong gliders

Related Blog Posts

Walkalong Gliders and Indoor Flying

Thermal Soaring a Walkalong Glider

Update from 7/15/2014

Students did much better with foam gliders made from very thin foam.

This glider sent to me by Slater Harrison is so light you can walk at a crawl speed to keep it flying.

1 comment:

  1. kPower, Inc. has a novel introduction of Walkalong Tubling Wing Kiting. The technology is released in AirborneWindEnergy forum.
    The following has no prior art found:

    Walkalong Tumbling Wing Kiting

    Each hand of the walking operator holds one of the two anchoring ends of the arching tether. The tether holds one or more tumbling wings using the arching tether as the through-wing axle doubling as bearing part. Faster walking increases the speed of the apparent wind over the tumbling wing. The pilot gets exercise by walking and also by holding the tether at a spread. The pilot is to stay aware of pathway safety. The walkalong tumbling wing kiting may feature energy production, energy conversion, and other practical applications (advertising, entertainment, education, polishing, sound making, ... Also, instead of the recently disclosed through-wing load line axle method, one may have other swivel and slip ring methods for holding and allowing the autorotation of the tumbling wings.

    Without forming slope, but only forming apparent wind by walking:
    have arch-kited tumbling wing. Indoors or outdoors! If outdoors and there is wind, then walk generally into the wind.
    Indoors in calm air: Walk in any direction.

    Notice that this novel activity does not have the operator going zig-zag rambunctiously as has been popularly the case by the free-glide walkalong tumbling-wing gliders. Walkalong tumbling wing gliders require pilot to form an incline slope for obtaining slope lift flow to keep the glider up flying. Differently, the walkalong tumbling wing kiting does not need the formation of a slope (hands slanted, cardboard tool, ... ).

    This walkalong tumbling wing kiting method is released to public domain for non-commercial recreation and sport and educational uses. Commercial uses: contact kPower, Inc. for very reasonable licensing of the method. The method includes the industrial uses even when arch anchors are powered or moved by other means other than human walking.