By Paul N. Tolson
I am the new owner of the Super HP18 'ET' built by Udo Rumpf. Since there seem's to be some interest in Udo's creation, I thought it may be a good idea to add my thoughts about the sailplane.
However first an introduction about myself, some background against which to pitch my comments about the Super HP18 and the story behind how I became the owner. I am a resident of England and soon to be ex-schoolteacher. I caught the 'soaring bug' at the age of 14 after a ride in a Slingsby T21b. 2 Years later, 1 week after my 16th birthday (the minimum age for solo in the UK ). I got to fly the venerable old 21 without the interference of an instructor by my side. I had to give up gliding whilst at university and teacher training college due to lack of funds and did not seriously start up the sport until my late 20's when I was able to afford a 1/3 share in a Ka8b. Since then I have owned an SHK, BG135, Slingsby Swallow, VFW-FK-3 (the only one in England , which I imported from Germany, as it had been an ambition since the age of 15 to own one) and an Open Cirrus. I have flown in addition to the above, the following two seaters 2-33a, K-2B, K-7, K-13, Bocian, Blanik, Puchacz, IS28B2, Twin Astir1 and 11, Janus CM, ASH25wl , and the following single seaters Mucha Std, K-18, Junior, Astir CS JEANS and 77, Phoebus 17C, Libelle301b, Pegasus, Discus, LS7WL , Lak12. Most of my flying has been cross-country, and I have participated in a few inter-club and regional competitions in the U.K., but I am no 'whizz-kid', still having my 500k to do and needing to remember to take a barograph when gaining more than 3000m of height.
Another 'ambition' of mine has been to become a gliding bum and spend some time traveling and soaring in North America. If you have ever spent a protracted time in the U.K. you'll understand why. 1000km is achievable, but you have to have an ASH25, 2 national coaches in it, and a long, long soaring day! Whereas in North America you seem to be able to fly 1000k in numerous locations in ships the ordinary person can afford, plus you almost speak the same language, and gas, food, and beer is cheap.
So, in the spring of '97 I placed an Ad in Soaring Magazine for an HP18, having worked out that this offered about the best performance for the limited amount of funds I had available. (Teaching, in the U.K, although giving you the time for Soaring, doesn't really give you the funds).
I received 1 reply! From a guy called Udo, who by coincidence lived only 200 miles away from my sister's farm near Ottawa. During my summer vacation that year I combined a touring holiday of Canadian and US National parks, visiting some soaring sites and looking at a few other non-HP sailplanes. Near the end of my vacation after seeing a few sailplanes who's owners financial needs where greater than my need for their ships, I called in at Udo's place. Udo impressed me with the time he took to go over the ship and explain the modifications he had made and in typical Germanic fashion it all seemed very well engineered. Although a little more than my anticipated budget, I thought it well worth it for the extra performance and modifications he had made. I made an agreement with Udo to purchase the ship and for me to collect it the following year during my summer vacation.
After a long dreary winter and the worst spring and early summer gliding conditions that I had witnessed since starting the sport it was a relief to finally be back in Canada. The day after I arrived I collected the ship from Udo who spent a considerable time going over the ship with me and re-ballasting it for my heavier weight. Udo kindly had arranged to come up to the Gantineau Club outside of Ottawa to check me out on the ship. ( The Gatineau Club is by the way one of the most impressive facilities I have seen for a membership of its size, certainly superior to any U.K Club of a similar size, and also has very reasonable rates, a 4000ft tow cost me less than a 2000ft tow back in the U.K!).
Anyway I had 5 flights there totaling around 15 hours, hitting the best 2 weeks in Ontario with 6-7000ft bases most days. Most of my flying was local or consisted of doing several O/R to the Montreal Soaring Club's site at Hawkesbury. I was flying very conservatively not wishing to land the ship out until I had built up some time on it.
My first couple of take-offs and landings were rather inelegant, especially the landings where I was 'ballooning' on rounding out. I have flown a sailplane with trailing edge brakes before (the BG135) but not one with plain flaps for landing. Talking with Bob Mercer (who had owned an RS15 ) one evening over a beer, he suggested that maybe if I brought the ship in 5 knots slower than the 55 Udo had recommended I might fare better.( We were flying in very light wind conditions most days ). I tried it out - no problems landing since! In fact with a lot of flap on the ship seems to stabilize at around 50 knots. Take-off problems I think were a case of adapting to the ship and learning the amount of control response needed, plus the very light wind conditions where I think several times we had a slight following cross wind which in my experience always makes it hard work on the groundrun in a V-tail ship. Incidentally Udo said the ship had been designed to take of in +8 flap which is fairly unusual for a flapped ship. I tried it one day starting off in negative flap and transitioning to positive flap, the consequent long groundrun and embarrassing 'balloon' convinced me Udo was right on this one. Anyway after these flights at Gatineau and convinced I had the landing and take-off sorted out I felt confident enough to trailer the ship across Canada to Invermere in the Columbia Valley. A place I had visited the year before and fallen in love with.
I spent the next several weeks getting used to flying in the Rockies, again flying conservatively with an eye to identifying the escape routes and landing areas. A cloud base of 13-14000 ft helped considerably in achieving this ! One flight in particular showed me both the potential of the SHP18 and the Columbia Valley. A 300Km flight completed in under 3 hours from a 4.00pm takeoff with roughly 2/5 of the course under 8/8 cover and I know I could have gone a lot faster if I had believed the locals and headed for the Rocks when the sky turned to 8/8 ths .
So how does the SHP18 compare? Well I was flying the sailplane dry with a wing loading over 71/2 pounds/sq ft. In the glide I would say it is comparable with the LS7wl, Discus and LAK12 (dry LAK's don't seem to go anywhere in the glide when you push the speed up above 60 knots) that I have flown previously. It is certainly the highest performing ship I have owned. The climb also seems good, ( Udo I think said it was a climbing airfoil ). I didn't have many opportunities to fly with other sailplanes directly but in a late evening thermal session in Ontario with Uli Werneburg in his ASW20B the SHP18 didn't seem to be losing out much despite Uli's far greater skill and familiarity with his ship .(Uli was flying dry). At low speeds the ship is very docile, and there are certainly no nasty suprises in the stall regime.
In the handling stakes it is again comparable to the Discus and LS7. The aileron feel is one of the most pleasant I have come across. I would say that like a few V tailed sailplanes I have flown that control response on the groundrun takes a little more anticipation than in 'normal tailed' ships- but then I was flying on days with light winds and especially in Invermere high density altitudes. Also in the rough and tight mountain thermals (often in excess of 10 knots ) I would say that speed control was a little more difficult than in a Discus/LS7. I found this also in my SHK in England and it maybe a phenomenon of V-tailed ships, although in defense of the SHP18 in the more gentle 4-8 knot thermals in Ontario I cannot remember it being a problem.
Also I have to say there was an incident on my 12 th flight in the ship which showed the SHP18's easy handling and docility. At an uncontrolled airport in the northwestern U.S.A. the tug pilot and I aborted the aerotow simultaneously at 50ft due to a 'professional' 727 pilot taxiing across an active runway several hundred yards in front of us. The ease of flying and the performance of the SHP 18 gave me time to consider my options and thankfully make a safe landing on the taxiway behind the 727 instead of the rough grass areas in-between which would have likely caused damage to the ship and myself.
Comfort is very good, I am a fairly big guy ( 6ft and getting on for 250 lbs fully clothed) and comfort was never an issue, unlike some of the other sailplanes I have flown in. This is no doubt helped by Udo's and Terry Healy's Canopy mod. Also I was very grateful for the controllable fresh air vent, not being used to temperatures in the 30's.
Rigging went easily using Udo's 1man rig outfit (once I had gotten used to the few 'tricks' that are always involved when rigging any new type of sailplane) and I could usually self rig and tape in 30-40 minutes taking my time. There is a little more taping of gaps required than in a ship like a 7 or Discus- but it is a minor inconvenience.
So in summary I have to say that I am very pleased with the SHP18- after my 1st flight I thanked Udo for making such a nice ship- I certainly do not think that I could have purchased such a comparable performing and good handling ship for the money. It is certainly the best ship I have owned.
Udo has shown in various US and Canadian Nationals the potential of the ship and I hope that during 1999 I will also be able to contribute to that with a few more adventurous flights planned for the Columbia Valley and maybe a few competition entries. If you would like to know any more about the ship or anything else you can contact me via SHP18ET@AOL.COM.
By the way if you are reading this, are female20-35, donít look like the back end of a bus, live in the Columbia Valley in Canada, like driving pick-ups with 30ft trailers, and have extremely bad taste in men, do you want to get married?