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 
pitching moment, which has since been confirmed through the flight testing.  Max CL came out to about .85, and was driven by the fact that all the actuation mechanisms had to be enclosed. 

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." 

Preliminary Specifications 

Gross Weight                                          1960# 
Empty Weight                                        1372# 
Useful Load                                               612# 
Maximum Fuel                                           57 gal 
Wing Span                                                  34 feet 
Wing Area                                                160 sq. ft. 
Aspect Ratio                                                 7.23 
Seats (2-seats optional)                             1 
Engine (Mazda 2-chamber rotary)     180 hp 
      (optional engines available) 

Estimated Performance 

Max Speed at Sea Level                                  223 mph 
Max Speed at 20,000'                                      256 mph 
Economy Speed at 20,000'                             192 mph 
Stall Speed at Sea Level                                    67 mph 
Range at Economy Speed                            1013 sm 
Takeoff Distance over 50' Obstacle            1205 ft. 
Landing Distance over 50' Obstacle           1732 ft. 
Maximum Rate of Climb at Sea Level        1505 fpm 
Maximum Endurance                                          5.3 hrs 

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.
     “The biggest challenge was how to fit into that constricting aerodynamic ‘box’ defined by FAR Part 103.  Building a wing big enough to afford stall speed below 27 mph has traditionally meant cable bracing or other backdoor methods to lend proper structural credentials, since the added restriction of a 254-pound maximum weight put the double whammy on a more conventional approach to ultralight design.  Some designers, Schapel definitely among them, don’t believe that you can build a strong enough airplane at that weight.  Many have tried, and achieved their goals.  But one man’s max is another’s mini.  Schapel felt that the terms ‘ultralight’ and ‘safe’ were still mutually exclusive.
     “’It’s a simple problem, given the requirements to build a strong ultralight in that performance box, ‘ says Rod.  ‘A flying wing is a logical solution.’
     “A properly designed flying wing is inherently more stable than any aircraft with a fuselage and tail.  The immediate benefit is in inherent resistance to stalls and spins, two perennial killers in conventional aircraft.  Hang gliders, which still bear a  media-bestowed, undeserved reputation as death machines, demonstrate daily from mountain tops around the world irrefutable proof of flying wing stability.
     “Add to the stability factor an enduring affection for flying wing mystique, plus the potential for impressive structural integrity without fudging on the ultralight weight limits, and Schapel’s decision to built UltraWing is not hard to understand.
     “Because production tooling to build a composite material aircraft is incredibly expensive, a proof of concept ship was the first order of business.  The proof of concept was to be a dramatically  nonultralight aircraft that would be constructed of hand layed up fiberglass in sufficient number of laminations and reinforcement to guarantee no structural problems whatsoever during the flight test program.  This naturally led to a larger powerplant; in test flying, altitude is king, and the altitude in Reno begins at 5000 feet.  The proof of concept aircraft was deliberately overbuilt and weighs 875 pounds.  To move around that much hard plastic, you need something like a thirsty 180 hp Mazda rotary engine and s St. Croix custom built ground adjustable three-blade Kevlar propeller.
     “Once the flying parameters are tested, modified and understood, then recalculated to phase in with the ultralight ‘box’, Rod will return to the drawing board, retaining only the proven aerodynamic outer shell of the aircraft and completely design an ultralight production building technique, including spars, ribs, landing gear attach hard points, motor mounts, female molds, etc.  Literally, it is working from the outside in, almost like propping up a roof, then deciding how to most efficiently support and apportion the interior.
     “The aircraft was constructed of PVC foam and unidirectional fiberglass supported by an epoxy matrix.  The fibers were oriented in different directions in different locations to optimize required strength and flexural qualities.  A .005 inch think layer of cloth was applied overall for abrasion resistance.
     “The roomy, high-profile Plexiglas cockpit adds to the sensuous reptilian curve of the aircraft.  Rod’s approach to the control problems encountered when there is a tail with which to separate axis control is innovative; everything is in the trailing edge.
     “Starting inboard, a clamshell like device is used to provide yawing action.  In effect, the trailing edge splits into two pieces that stick up and down into the airflow, producing drag on the left or right side of the vehicle.  Conceptually, the clamshell is a horizontal instead of a vertical rudder, identical in effect on the yaw axis as the ‘tip draggers’  on ultralights like the Falcon or Eagle.
     “Pitch is controlled, just as in a tailed ship, with an elevator.  Just outboard of the ‘rudders,’ the left and right elevators move in unison up or down, essentially to deflect airflow and provide a moment arm working against the centers of pressure and lift.  Farthest from the pilot are the ailerons, which work just as they ought to.  ‘It really is a three-axis ship,’ says Rod, ‘and it works.’
     “A primary appeal of the flying wing is the previously mentioned stability.  This is designed into the wing by a complex combination of such factors as sweep angle to elongate the pitching moments and center of gravity envelope front to back as much as possible; 9 ½ degrees per side of variable wingtip washout to provide stall resistance, dive recovery and enhance longitudinal stability; and properly calculated depth of wing section and airfoil shape; and trailing edge reflex.”
     The article went on to talk about the problems of having a flying wing this efficient and keeping inside the speed ranges of Part 103 without seriously affecting the overall performance of the aircraft.  It is obvious that the project never made it to the point of producing an ultralight prototype.