Chapter 10: Nostalgia Sailplanes | Contents

Chapter 11: Intermediate Sailplanes

11.1 Alcyone

The Alcyone is a good intermediate level transition sailplane from Northeast Sailplane Products. If you are very comfortable flying a polyhedral plane at a local competition level then the Alcyone is a great first aileron sailplane. The Alcyone is advanced enough to win contests, but still gentle enough to be handled by the intermediate pilot. The plane comes in 2M, 100" and unlimited size at a very reasonable price. The 2M and 100" planes share the same body and tail, so you can build one version and purchase a separate wing kit to switch versions. In addition, all three planes can be configured with as few as three servos (coupled aileron-rudder, elevator and flaps) or as many as six servos. All Alcyones use a foam core, carbon-fiber reinforced wing sheeted with balsa. They will withstand a pretty hard zoom launch, and are comparable in strength to other competitive wood sheeted planes. The airfoil is a mixed SD7032 tapering to a SD7037 at the tips. This provides aerodynamic washout without hurting performance. As a result, the wing has an excellent speed range, but is relatively free of tip stalls. All three versions are available with fiberglass or wood fuselage.

I built an Alcyone in 1996 with five servos (two aileron, one flap, rudder and elevator), and have been very happy with its performance. The plane is easy to fly, but very responsive. The Alcyone is not quite as fast as a pure SD7037 plane, but still has excellent range using a slight amount of reflex. With some camber the plane will launch very well. I've seen a number of Alcyones in local contests, and they all have performed well - competing favorably with much more expensive planes.

The Alcyone is designed by Saterlee Design Studio, manufactured by Culpepper models, and sold through Northeast Sailplane at the time of this writing.

Recommended modifications and building tips:

  • If you have a computer radio and some small servos, this plane will perform well as a full-house six servo set-up. Be sure to reinforce the top sheeting around the servo bays with some fiberglass when you are laying the wing up.
  • Some people have reported problems getting the appropriate rudder-aileron mix on the three servo mechanical mix version. Drill some extra holes in the aileron and rudder horns so you can adjust the throws for the appropriate mix.
  • On the two piece wing, strengthen the wing joiner box by wrapping with thread and thin epoxy before installing the spar in the wing core.
  • Servo-savers are a good idea for your flap servo. If this is your first plane with flaps, you will likely make many landings with the flaps fully extended and strip your flap servos. A servo saver will prevent this. Purchase the round arm-type servo-savers from your local hobby shop. I've found that Kimbrough rotary arm servo savers are the best to use.
  • I cut the width of the wood fuselage on my plane by slicing a little off the bulkheads. Be careful to make the fuselage wide enough for your battery and radio equipment.
  • I don't like the steel cable control rods included with the kit and used in the elevator and rudder. The cable has too much slop between it and the plastic sleeve. Purchase an alternate system (carbon fiber rods, kevlar pull-pull) for use on the rudder and elevator.
  • The CG and towhook locations shown on the plans are way off, at least for the two meter version. The CG should be quite a bit back from where it is shown on the plans. Start with the CG just behind the spar, and remove weight until you feel uncomfortable with stability. The tow-hook position is too far aft on the plans. Install a longer plywood base and drill several towhook holes forward of the position on the plans, and start flying in the forward position. Move the towhook back only if the plane launches poorly.
  • Add fiberglass reinforcement to the top and bottom of the wing mounts where they join to the fuselage. The wings on the Alcyone are stiff, and can place a lot of torque on the wing mounts if you occasionally hit hard on the landing.

Chapter 10: Nostalgia Sailplanes | Contents

Copyright 1997-1998 Bradley J. Smith
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