For most of the year I have been working on a project based around flight. The project outcome resulted in a trip to Glossop where myself and other students travelled to fly kites and other flying contraptions. I started my project with some research. First I went to the Museum of Science and Industry and looked around the Air and Space hall following this I took various books from the library and started to learn about aerofoils, wing structures, and building techniques. I also looked at a lot of model aircraft and paper aeroplane information on the internet and found some interesting photographs of a balsa wood wing structure. It was this image of the wing structure that would shape rest of my project as I found it to be intriguing and revelling of its process, this was useful because I could only find limited information on building a balsa wood aeroplane or glider.
The next step in my project was to build a miniature from the image of a wing structure I had sourced. I made this on a small scale from thicker watercolour paper. I then developed this idea further and added a small propeller and a counter weight to make a kinetic sculpture.
My work is mostly hands on and I love building models working with wood and metal I think this is part of the reason I ran with this project for so long and was slightly obsessed with making a balsa wood glider. I made my final aeroplane using a few materials as possible and keeping it as light as possible. For a while it was my plan to include two motors with propellers and a battery pack but after some deliberation I had to remove these to save on weight and give my glider the best chance it had to fly. I have never attempted to make any sort of aeroplane before and had to compromise learn and make a few things up as i went along this is possibly what let me down on the day of the test flight.
The materials I used for my glider were around six sheets of balsa wood, four tubes of glue and some muslin material and cellulose dope and thinners. I had originally planned to use wet strength tissue paper to cover the glider but decided on muslin as i could not find any tissue paper and whist researching found the the Wright brothers first flying machine was skinned with muslin.
Disappointingly on the day of the test flights my balsa wood glider did not fly. I think the reason for this is my lack of knowledge in the field of aeronautics. My glider was not properly balanced so the tail was dropping and dragging the glider down, however I think technically my creation had many aspects of a successful glider and i feel after starting the project with no knowledge of aeronautics at all my glider would fall somewhere in the middle between a complete failure and successful design. The only consolation upon traveling home was an definition I had once heard of what is art? "Art is something without a function." Could it be in my search to engineer a glider I had managed to create some art?