|The two photos above were shot at The Planes of Fame Museum, Chino, CA, by Paul Spatrisano of Bend, OR.|
|(The following was taken from the pages of the TWITT newsletter recapping
Rod Schapel's talk about the aircraft.)
The SA-882 is a flying wing which was designed and built to research the overall aerodynamics, control and flying characteristics of a tailless airplane configuration.
"The Schapel Wing is powered by a turbo-charged Mazda, 2 chamber, rotary engine. The 3-bladed propeller is ground adjustable and is driven by a 40-inch long drive shaft. Propeller 2:1 speed reduction is accomplished by a helical gear speed reducer. The engine gave them some problems during the dyo testing phase, but a successful combination was finally developed.
The aircraft was built in female molds using an
epoxy system, vaccumed, and cured at 240 degrees F. in an oven. The
upper and lower surfaces are a foam sandwich with a three spar system out
to the landing gear position and then two spars out to the tip. The
wing has five ribs per side and uses a non-laminar flow airfoil of his
own design with a very low pitching moment. The wing has a lot of
twist between the root and tip, with about 9 degrees negative by the time
you reach the tip. This was designed to achieve a zero
The actual construction involved using unidirectional material, laid up at different angles as required by the results of a computer analysis. They built a male plug, a set of one piece female molds for everything and, then the PVC sandwiched skins constructed. This type of construction gave it about a 1300 lb. empty weight, with a fuel capacity of 57 gallons right at the CG. The spars were made up separately, then added to the laminated lower skins along with the ribs and then bonded all together. The upper skins, in their molds, were then bolted on-top of the low portion so a spar cap could be cast to measure the thickness between the spar and upper skin. Once the skin was constructed, the whole thing was bolted together and put in the oven for curing.
Rod added a comment about making sure you put a steerable nose gear on any plane like this, which he had not. Low speed controllability during the initial phases of takeoff required using a lot of brakes, since the drag rudders were ineffective. This was due to them being at the MAC rather than the wingtips so the pitching moments wouldn’t be changed during flight.
Several things Rod said he would change if he did it again were: put the drag rudders out at the wingtips; instead of having separate elevator and ailerons he would combine the two, and; he felt it would be much simpilar to put a jet engine (about 400 lbs thrust) in it versus the rotary."
Max Speed at Sea Level
None of the material we currently have says whether he ever flew the airplane, although we were led to believe he had. The pusher propeller was at the end of the streamlined aft fuselage section, that along with the canopy provided some vertical area above the wing's surface.
In going through some of back newsletters, a brief
segment was found where it said the SA-882 was doing high-speed taxi tests
at Reno (Stead) when the small nosegear got jammed in a runway joint and
the aircraft sustained substantial damage. There was no mention that
the damage was subsequently repaired and a flight made, so it may be assumed
that this ended the project at the time.
|(The following was extracted from the April 1985 issue of Ultralight
Aircraft, pp. 22-25. It provides a history of what the aircraft was
originally destined to be, although many perceived it to be something for
the general aviation market. Someday perhaps, Rod Schapel will tell
us the rest of the story behind this aircraft.)
“Rod Schapel doesn’t
have much confidence in the structural integrity of most of the ultralight
aircraft on the market today (1985). As a maverick mechanical and
aerodynamic engineer with year of practical experience in designing an
building everything from planes to sailboats (he designed the original
concept for the revolutionary LearFan business aircraft and worked alongside
the late William Lear on several other projects), Schapel wanted to build
an ultralight of unquestionable structural integrity. With a market
already overcrowded and undersold, why bother? ‘I’m always interested
in a new challenge,’ he says.