It was 2004 and I was a typical aspiring glider pilot
who had worked his way up through my
fleet and wanted to advance to the next stage. I began searching for my own entry level "high" performance glass ship and asked others for advice. The suggestions were wide and varied. Luckily I ran into my good friend
Burt Compton at the 2003 SSA convention and mentioned that I was looking for my own glider.
A few days later Burt spotted by sheer luck a DG-101 for sale on the
SSA web site. Better yet it was located close by in Michigan (I am from the Chicago area) at the
Sandhill Soaring Club located in Gregory, MI. [As an aside, the
sandhill crane is an magnificent soaring bird which I see over the Chicago suburbs during their migration. Their migration flocks can consist of gaggles of 100's of birds and I have seen them create an outline of a thermal with their long wings. A truly magnificient sight. But I digress.]
I called up the current owner and arranged to fly out to see the ship in a few weeks time. A day later the owner called back to say that a west coast club had called to say they were going to make a cash deposit sight unseen to hold the ship for them and were "on the road" for Michigan that very day. The owner was good enough to offer me right of first refusal so I quickly flew out (thanks Bob!) to see if the ship was what I wanted.
We dug the hangar out of a couple of feet of snow and found the glider was in great condition (as DG's almost always are). It was low time ship with only two owners. The first owner hardly flew it. The current owner only flew it for two years before ultimately moving to Europe. It was a done deal and the rest is history. A few weeks later I returned to Michigan with my tow vehicle and pulled my first glider back home for its new life with me.
Since that time I have made over 300 flights in this ship, flown in contests, traveled with it to
Knauff's Ridge Soaring Glider port and two cross country camps in
and also captured both my silver (#6628) and gold (#2681) badges in this ship - my IGC log files can be found
SOLD March, 2016! After 12 years of ownership, I have sold this glider. Wow, it was a great ship and the memories it has given me! I am sure that the new owner is going to do great things with it. Now I need to find a new (for me) ship with better performance to move "up" in the world. Once I buy another glider, I will have to start a new blog!
July 5, 2016 NEWS
I bought a used
ASW-27B!! Now I don't have many excuses left about getting a Diamond badge!!
Soaring Magazine Cover
Featuring the DG-101G
The DG-100 all-fiberglass Standard Class glider was based on the Akaflieg Darmstadt D-38 which Wilhelm Dirks designed before forming Glaser-Dirks Flugzeugbau GmbH (now DG Flugzeugbau GmbH). It has Schemmpp-Hirth type top-surface airbrakes, an all-flying T-tail and water ballast. Options offered included both retractable and fixed landing gear, and a fixed horizontal stabilizer. After more than 100 DG-100 sailplanes were built, it was succeeded by the DG-101, offering a front-hinged canopy, two part horizontal stabilizer/elevator, automatic trim and a cockpit of improved impact-resistant design. A CG (center of gravity) hook is standard for use with aero or winch towing (though a nose hook can be retrofitted). Some DG-101 sailplanes were constructed by ELAN in Slovenia and are designed with a "G" suffix.
The DG-100 line is considered by many to be a wonderful first time glass glider with decent performance for cross country and sports class competition. It is a very safe and benign ship with clear stall and spin indications. The large canopy allows greater visibility than other brands. It is also a "cold weather" ship, keeping your feet warm due to its large canopy extending to your feet and allowing the sun to warm the interior (and your toes), as compared to most other ships in which your feet are buried deep under the console. At the same time the good ventilation of the ship prevents overheating during summer flying.
L'Hotellier Fittings - Fitted with
Wedekind Sleeves in 2006 for quick, and secure, assembly of the control linkages.
Gap Seals - Replaced all cloth gap seals with mylar (2007)
Airworthiness Directives - All ADs are complied with - including
TN 301-23 (Lower Rudder Mount) which added the required securing washer (in lieu of daily inspections).
Instrumentation - The glider came with basic instruments. The only electronics is the transceiver. I added a
Cambridge 302 and an
Headrest - Recovered the headrest. This is also where I pin my SSA badges.
Side Pockets - New side pockets were made which attach via velcro. The velcro is fitted all along the fuselage interior to allow for moving the pockets (and other items like pencils/pens) easily to various positions.
Airlines - The airlines behind the panel were replaced with new, color coded, line with a Winter quick disconnect.
Wiring - All wiring behind the panel has been replaced with aviation grade Tefzel mil-spec cabling. Wiring to/from the battery bay was also replaced. A quick disconnect behind the panel allows the instrument pod to be easily removed completely from the glider for service and winter storage.
Power Distribution Panel - A master power distribution panel was created with switches, breaker, voltmeter and timer.
Batteries - At purchase there was only a setup for one battery on the cargo shelf behind the pilot. This was increased to two batteries. New 12gauge Tefzel wiring was run between the batteries and the panel. Also the original cargo shelf was plastic which was replaced with aluminum. New hold down straps were fabricated.
Di-NOC Carbon Fiber Panel - The panel's face was covered by a layer of 3M Di-NOC carbon fiber overlay.
Stick Grip - A Ray Allen stick grip was fitted with switches for PTT and flight computer changes.
Labeling - Engraved labeling on the panel and elsewhere in the cockpit was fitted.
Oxygen Cylinder Bracket - The ship came from the factory with a sleeve for an 3AA2015 (E) size O2 bottle. When the glider was purchased it came with an O2 bottle but was missing the bottle's hold down bracket. This was fabricated.
Canopy Covers - Both a
Ridge Sewing and a silver reflective canopy cover was purchased. Not to mention the original blue cloth cover as a spare and still in good shape.
Wind Vent Modification - A Bumper Brand wind vent noise reducer was fitted.
Yaw String - A Bumper Brand yaw string with clear plastic mount was fitted.
Airbrake Cap Springs (2009) -
I replaced the springs due to the airbrake caps floating slightly above the wing at high air speeds. The replacement springs (from DG) are about 2x stronger. Installing the springs was a bit tricky as you had to compress them and, at the same time, install a cotter pin. I made a cool tool out of two brass tubes which slid one inside the other (see the
pictures). The inner tube has the same diameter as the shaft the spring goes on. I can then compress the spring and fit the cotter pin through a slot cut into the outer tube. I tested the new springs up to about red-line and the caps do not float any longer. Note that I always keep my hand on the airbrake handle to prevent the entire brake from popping out (very bad) at high air speeds.
Future and In-Progress Activities;
Gear Warning (in progress) - The
Cambridge 302 has an integrated gear warning system. This will alarm when the airbrakes are opened and the gear is not down and locked. In addition the Cambridge 302 will alarm if the airbrakes are opened during take off roll when above 25 kts.
I am using magnetic reed switches rather than the more typical mechanical micro switches as these magnetic switches are non-contact. I run the wiring and created brackets to hold the magnetic switches. An electrical wiring diagram, including the gear warning, for this ship is available
Seal push rods at wing root - The real problem mentioned in the spring repair above has to do with the pressurization of the cockpit at high speeds from vents. The only exit point for the air is out the wing roots and then the airbrake caps. Sealing the push rods openings should help this and increase performance a bit.
Cockpit Air Extractor - Another solution to the above problem is to give an easy exit point for the air coming into the cockpit from the vents. This is generally along the top of the turtledeck. This has the advantage of allow more air into the cockpit which can be useful in desert regions. The DG-101 has a removable hatch on the turtledeck to access the aileron and airbrake hookups which could be fairly easily replaced to facilitate this modification. [need links to RAS articles].
Video - a DG-101G following a DG-300 for a Landing
The N101RP Trailer
As you can see in the pictures below, the trailer is home built. However, it is about the best looking and functional home built wooden trailer that I have seen. A good friend commented, "It's like looking inside a piano!".
It is made of wood (mostly plywood) covered in fiberglass cloth and then painted in 2006 with Benjamin Moore Polyamide epoxy paint (M37 84). Whomever manufactured the steel and aluminum fittings, they are first class. It is quite weather tight and I have never had an insect or rodent issue. While the trailer is heavier and less aerodynamic than a fiberglass trailer (i.e. Cobra), I have found that it is easier to rig as there is a simpler ramp system and faster fuselage dolley raiser with its over-center lever approach (no cranking/pumping - see images below). More details above in the
Upgrades and Changes section.
The fuselage is held onto the fuselage cradle by a nylon strap. A single motion with the fuselage dolly raising arm and the fuselage is at the exact height for assembly. When the fuselage/cradle is rolled into the trailer, the cradle mates with a 1/4" steel receiver (new) to hold it down during travel. The rear wheel settles into a fitted floor recess. The tail boom can be strapped down to floor rings using supplied padded automotive seat belt webbing and buckle.
The wings are held in place onto their rolling dollies by placing the spar pin hole over a nylon male fitting and then secured with large easy to handle custom-made wing knurled bolts. When stowed the wing dollies are held in place (root) under a 1/4" steel plate (new) and is then can be pinned in place for travel. Each wing tip is held in place (aft) by really nice custom-made fittings which also captures the ailerons. Slick!
The elevator is held in place with a custom-made hinged interior roof rack with a securing pin.
Trailer changes made since purchase;
Anti-Sway Bar - The trailer did sway especially when being overtaken by a semi. Adding forward weight helped. Then I added
one of these devices
which really helped.
Wiring - Rewired the trailer lighting end to end using ring lugs and added terminal blocks fore and aft.
Lighting - Replaced the existing small two incandescent brake/turn lights with LED.
I also added amber and red clearance LED lights along each side and fender mounted brake and turn signal LED lights.
Ramp - I extensively modified the tail ramp configuration. Originally there was no ramp off the end of the rear door. I added the hinged diamond plate ramp to aid rolling the fuselage dolly onto the ground.
Wing Dolley Track - I extended the wing dolly U-channel track onto the rear ramp (previously it stopped inside the trailer) which makes it much easier to grasp the wing spar. The original track was also only 1/2" tall so was replaced with 1" tall track. This prevents the dolly from possibly jumping the track and more securely holds the dollies in place during transport.
Hatches - The front hatch is now held open by a marine grade chrome latch and has a stainless steel hinge with rubber weather guard. The rear hatch is locked with marine grade chrome 1/4 They never leak.
Tie Downs - There were no trailer tie downs so I added BOAT CLEATS. You might find boat cleats are a bit odd to find on a glider trailer but they are simpler to use than the typical trailer tie down rings, doesn't rattle around during road trips and, as I like to say, "If it's good enough for the Queen Mary, it's good enough for my glider!".
Front Storage (Interior) - I added
this storage box
between the wings to hold the tire jack, etc. I have two heavy plastic, folding top, storage boxes that sit on top of this box.
Front Storage (Exterior)- I use it to store tie downs, jockey wheel, chocks, etc. At first I added a heavy duty plastic "tub" which did not last very long. Then I added this
baked enamel steel box with hydraulic lift which
came from Harbor Freight. To connect it to the coupler tube there are four 1/4" thick "Unistrut" steel L brackets, an internal 2x12 wood floor, and 1/2" galvanized bolts. A diamond plate version would be nicer but more expensive.
Spare tire - there wasn't one. Now there is. Braced inside and out with 1/4" steel. 'Nuff said.
Boom Tie Down - The tie down was a steel shaft going through the hollow middle of the tail wheel axle. This didn't seem safe nor good for the tail with twisting loads. I changed it to a
(sheepskin covered) seat belt similar to what you might find in Cobra trailers.
Outriggers - During rigging the trailer aft would rest on a 8"x8" wood block which I had to lug around (and forget). I added
screw type outriggers
at the rear of the trailer which are found on some commercial glider trailers. These lower to stabilize the trailer and can be raised into the trailer bed for travel.
Rear Wheels - I added under floor "skid" wheels at the rear of the trailer.
Reflectors - Important when parked and unlit. I added;
"European" triangular reflectors at the rear.
3M reflective tape on the rear and sides.
Round reflectors on the fenders.
Fuselage Cradle Over-center Lock - The fuselage is raised for wing rigging via an ingenious cradle using an over-center lever arm. The arm was loosely captured by a block of wood against the cradle itself. Not very secure and the arm could slip backward against the wing's leading edge.
this plate which locks the arm in place and yet allows easy access. The swirled pattern is called "engine turning" and helps to hide surface marring (and looks cool too). This is easily done with a small cup type wire brush held in a drill press.
Cradle Capture Bracket - This locks the cradle to the trailer floor for transport. It was wood and is now 1/4" steel.
Jockey Wheel - To raise and lower the trailer onto the tow ball, there was a standard US screw jack. I replaced it with a "European" removable jockey wheel and bracket which I find superior but which are not easy to find in the US. Fits nicely into the external storage box.
Locks - Changed out the front and rear door locks with heavily chromed units from Lee Valley.
Glider Boom Tie Down - The tie down was a steel shaft going through the hollow middle of the tail wheel axle. This didn't seem safe nor good for the tail with twisting loads. I changed it to a
(sheepskin covered) seat belt similar to what you find in Cobra trailers.
Vertical Stabilizer Lock - The fuselage can rotate slightly in its cradle. This could allow the vertical stabilizer to touch the side of the trailer. I added padded blocks in the "dog house" to limit side to side travel and protect the vertical stabilizer.
Click on the Images Below to Enlarge
Landing at the region 7 contest
Albert Lea, MN - 2006
After assembly at the region 7 contest
Albert Lea, MN - 2006
Trailer on vehicle
(showing location of spare tire)