More News from Windward Performance

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During the recent SOARING EXPO at the Museum of Flight everybody had a chance (again) to get familiar with the Perlan, the pressurized sailplane that Einar Enevoldson and Steve Fosset had envisioned to get soaring to new heights.  Unfortunately this ambitious project – under construction in Bend, Oregon by Windward Performance - that has been designed for flying up to 90,000 ft is now on the backburner because it still needs several million dollars to complete.

But Windward Performance (WP) – the only US sailplane manufacturer - is on a roll to capitalize on the stunning success of the Duckhawk in the past contest season (with Chip Garner winning the 15m US championship and placing second in the 18m class) and the impressive world records set by Jim Payne in the Sparrowhawk, the lightweight predecessor of the Duckhawk.  The Duckhawk is now in production in a number of versions including a jet powered configuration with the first one going to Jim Payne.  Several versions with increased structural strength and increasing Vne are now being offered.  It will be interesting to see, whether the Duckhawk will continue to shake up the competition world.  And the Sparrowhawk which had a production run of 42 in its original version is now back in production as the Sparrowhawk R.  It seems to be more of a Duckhawk derivative with the wings being derived from the Duckhawk.  It is being offered with interchangeable wing tips – standard flat 15m tips and shorter tips with winglets (a first for WP) for the new 13.5m class.  And if one can keep the weight below 484 lbs. this little racer will qualify for the DU record class (ultralights by the FAI definition).  And WP has now joined the trend for electric propulsion with its TFP (Tractor Folding Propeller), a nose mounted electric motor with a foldable propeller that is offered for the Sparrowhawk (sounds a little like the Slowenian Forward Electric Sustainer – FES).

That still leaves the previously announced two-seater projects unaccounted for.  One has to hope, that Windward Performance is not taking on too much at once, as nice as it is to see the momentum behind the company.  Meanwhile, Greg Cole - the man behind the company – can be proud of having re-invigorated sailplane design.


                                                                                                By Fred Hermanspann