M.Simons The World's Vintage Sailplanes 1908-45
PELZNER’S HANG GLIDERS
Willy Pelzner came from Nuremburg to the first Rhoen gliding competition in 1920, and returned in 1921 and 22. Pelzner was the great maestro of the biplane hang glider. He built all his own craft and developed a simple
structure that proved strong enough to carry him safely. It was also light enough for him to control by bodily movements, changing the centre of gravity to trim the aircraft and overcome the upsetting effects of gusts or turbulence.
The various Pelzner gliders differed a good deal in size and detail, although all were built approximately to the same basic scheme. The earlier models were small and light, 5.4 metres in span with a total wing area of about 14 sq m. They weighed less than 10 kg. The later types spanned up to 7 metres with areas of 16.5 sq m, and weighed twice as much.
The framework was wood. Two tapered longerons, a shoulder width apart, ran fore and aft with the lower wing main spars running crosswise and attached with bolts. At the rear these two main members were drawn together to support the tail unit and from the tail to the upper end of the main wing struts, there were two diagonal members. This basic frame was of oval or streamlined-sectioned timber, about 2.5 cm by 4 cm in cross section where the loads were greatest, tapering down to 2 or 3 cm elsewhere. The upper and lower wings both had two spars, the front spars being 4 cm by 0.5 cm section, the rear ones 3.5 cm by 0.8 cm on the lower wing and 3.6 cm by 1.1 cm on the upper one. Light, curved ribs were bound to the spars and the two wings were joined by vertical struts, the outer ones being spindled in cross section to save weight. The whole structure was braced with wires.
Pelzner covered the surfaces with oiled paper, glued onto the underside of the ribs on wing and tail. The earliest models had no movable control surfaces at all, but later the designer found it useful to have a rudder which he controlled by means of a sling round his right hand; a forward pull for a left turn, a backward push to veer right.
In 1921 he accumulated a total flying time of 38 minutes, more than any other competitor. He often reached 500 and at least once 865 metres distance. The slope where he reached 100 metres height above the valley, is known still as the Pelznerhang. His longest glides were made on the northern slopes, not on the steeper side named after him.