A10 Mitchell Wing, Mitchell Wing A 10 motor glider, A-10 Mitchell Wing ultralight motor glider, Mitchell Wing A 10 ultra lite plane, Ultralight News newsmagazine.

Single place Part 103 ultralights in the United States are defined as single place ultralight aircraft that weigh 254 lbs or less, have a stall speed not more than 24 knots, a top speed of 55 knots, and carry no more than 5 gallons of fuel. To fly a legal Part 103 ultralight aircraft in the United States the pilot does not require a pilot license. Single place aircraft weighing more than 254 lbs. in the U.S. require a pilots license and must be built as experimental, amateur built, homebuilt aircraft. These include weight shift aircraft, more commonly known as trikes, powered parachutes, and powered para-gliders. Single place ultralights in Canada can weigh up to 1200 lbs. and an ultralight pilots license is required to fly them.

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Mitchell Wing A 10 Index

Mitchell Wing A 10 Specifications & Pictures

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Mitchell Wing A 10 ultralight, Mitchell Wing A 10 ultralight aircraft, Mitchell Wing A 10 ultra lite plane, experimental amateur built aircraft.

Mitchell Wing A 10 by Jim Bethea

Vertical Speed Indicator jostles briefly up to the 400 feet per minute mark... turbulence shakes the huge, stiff metal wing above your head... rudder around gently and caress the stick to feed in some stabilator... hold the horizon about 25 degrees... grooving around beautifully in the hunt for that thermal... 500 fpm on the VSI!... smooth!... shut down the noise-maker and listen to the wind... still climbing, circling... airspeed pegged at 40 mph... You hear the screech of a soaring eagle across the whispering void, welcoming you...

"Powered glider" is a term often used to describe the Mitchell Wing. Now the A10 version is being re-introduced as a capable cross-country experimental and ultralight by Larry Smith, the new owner of AmeriPlanes.

Roomy side-by-side trainer.

The 34 foot-long flying wing has a 16:1 glide ratio making it a great glider. But the combination of low weight, low drag and high lift also allows the plane to cruise at 55 mph on as little as one gallon of fuel per hour with engines in the 18 to 30 hp range. Obviously, there is a lot more potential in these designs than most people realize.

Larry jokingly says his company is the largest manufacturer of all-metal flying wings in America... and the only one. Actually, plans for the wood B10, U2 and P38 Mitchell designs are still being sold by a former associate of Mitchell, Richard Avalon. Rights to the A10 (designed by Steve Pattmont) and T10 (two-seat trainer) were sold separately. These metal designs went out of production from 1994 until last year, when Larry Smith bought AmeriPlanes and moved the company from Kansas to new facilities in Winterset, Iowa.

Mitchell Wings are distinguished by swept-back, tapered airfoils that are hinged in the middle for storage or trailering. Vertical rudders stand on each tip like winglets. A pair of horizontal "stabilators" hang beneath the outboard section trailing edges. Most notable is the lack of a tail behind the pusher engine nor is there a canard in front. There are no other drag-inducing protuberances or struts apart from the sleek pointed fuselage and tricycle landing gear. The result is a true flying wing unlike any other three-axis aircraft in the sky.

The most notable features of the Mitchell Wing - the lack of a tail and unique foldable wings.

The concept was developed by government-sponsored research in the 1950ís. Don Mitchell was part of the team as an aeronautical engineer. Problems with flying wings at high speeds led to the closing of the government program, but not before Don had realized their low-speed potential. He went on to privately design and build the B10 and other Mitchell Wing prototypes.

Conversely, interest has renewed lately in experimenting with flying wings. One concept is to use them as substitutes for satellites. Eventually, huge solar-powered flying wings could be aloft for years without landing. Others could be riding the jet streams as vast cargo carriers the way ships sail the oceans today. Perhaps tourists will even enjoy leisurely vacation cruises aboard luxury flying wings at the edge of space.

In past years, altitude records have been set by Mitchell Wing aircraft of over 27,000 feet, as well as world records for fuel endurance and distance. One such record was set by Dick Rowley, designer of the Rowley P-40 Warhawk replica, who flew a standard A10 over 309 miles from Meadowlark, Colorado to Russell, Kansas for an official-FAA straight-line unrefueled cross-country record of Category C recreational aircraft. His enthusiastic stories about the A10 alone would more than fill an article of this size.

The spirit of experimentation infects many individual Mitchell Wing owners. Larry tells of one pilot making a biplane by using the outboard sections of an A10 wing beneath the large center section. Others have made full cockpit enclosures, changed the landing gear, increased fuel capacity, added skis or floats and even stretched the fuselage frame by up to twelve inches.

The Mitchell Wing displaying its exquisite design.

Larry Smith is incorporating some of the best refinements into his new line of Mitchell Wings. The original A10 weighs 270 pounds and cruises at up to 70 mph with a Zenoah 22 hp engine. Larry stripped off the fiberglass pod and wheel fairings to create a legal ultralight he dubbed the A10B ("basic"). A deluxe version of his roomy side-by-side trainer is the T10D, which can comfortably carry both 6 ft 250 lb Larry and another 6 ft 2 in 180 lb pilot together.

Later this summer, he plans to introduce a totally new aircraft of somewhat more traditional design called the M10. It will have the same strong metal wing but with a straight leading edge, rather than the present V-shape, and will also have a tail. One and two-seat versions will be offered. Larry hints that, judging from the flying prototype, the M10 will be an exceptional aircraft.

Flying characteristics of the A10, B10 and other Mitchell Wings are similar. Unfortunately, rumors misled many to think all the designs are too pitch sensitive and dangerous. A number of B10 tumble accidents did occur back in the early 1980ís due to incorrect weight and balance in a narrow CG (center-of-gravity) envelope. PIO (pilot induced oscillation) was also a problem if a novice pilot "chased" the nose with rapid stick movements at flight speeds above 45 mph. Considering how radically advanced the early Mitchell Wings were for their time, it is easy to understand how most of the accidents were a result of inexperienced pilots trying to teach themselves how to fly.

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Several of the B10 accidents were caused by stalls at low-altitude. Stall, when forced, occurs at 27 mph, but two or three hundred feet may be lost before recovery. The B10 also had a stick suspended from overhead that tended to confuse pilots. The A10, however, has much of the earlier pitch-sensitivity dampened out by more stick travel in proportion to aileron movement, as well as by using bell-cranks and solid push-rod connections to the control surfaces.

Another notable flight characteristic is the degree of adverse yaw in uncoordinated turns. According to one experienced Mitchell Wing pilot, John Rauqust, this is due to the stabilators being only three feet aft of CG on the tail-less plane. Primary control should be with rudders followed by very light stick input. Otherwise, the stabilators should be moved no more than 15 degrees at a time to make smooth turns.

Regarding the rumors of dangerous instabilities, John says the A10 Mitchell Wing is an excellent, stable airplane with outstanding features such as being extremely stall resistant. An incident that illustrated the A10ís in-flight stability is when he once neglected to connect the rudder cables before taking off. He simply circled around using the stabilators and landed normally.

Mitchell Wing in motion.

Another dedicated Mitchell Wing pilot, who also happens to be one of the most experienced hanglider, ultralight and sailplane experts in America, is Woody Jones. He has actually flown loops and other mild aerobatics with the A10 (but warns that the standard rudder pivots are not stressed to the +6G strength of the wing itself). He continues to fly his A10 over 100 hours per year even though he owns several other excellent airplanes and has test flown many other soaring types. Modestly, he discounts his hundreds of hours in the A10 by referring to another friend who has over 12,000 hours on a Mitchell Wing!

Taxiing crosswind can be difficult and may even require someone to hold a wingtip down. Ailerons (stabilators) become effective in high-speed taxi at 28 mph but need a sensitive touch on the stick. On the other hand, Dick Rowley has been able to make successful 180 degree taxi turns in 40 mph gusts since the A10 does not have a tail for the wind to act on. He also advises "tacking" against strong gusts in a zigzag pattern. John Rauqust improved ground handling of his A10 by changing the standard single-handle brake lever on the stick to differential braking that tightens as he leans the stick to one side or the other.

Take-off sequence in the standard A10 involves centering the stick at neutral, then easing it slightly forward to hold the plane on the ground as it accelerates to flying speed. When the sheer-panel that forms the back of the pilotís seat moves as the

 weight unloads from the main wheels, return the stick to neutral. The plane lifts off level at 35 to 40 mph after a ground roll of 210 to 250 feet. A loaded T10 two-seater takes another 7 mph with a roll of 275 to 300 feet. Turn-back altitude for a 180 degree turn to the runway after an engine failure on take-off is just 125 feet. Modifications by various owners, such as changing the angle of attack of the wing on the ground, accounts for some wide variations from this standard take-off performance.

Climb is 650 fpm at 40 mph, using the Zenoah G25B 22 hp engine on the A10 and Zenoah G50D 45 hp on the T10. The A10B can also use a 20 hp 2si engine that is a few pounds lighter for the same performance. John says his Kawasaki 440-powered A10 climbs like a "homesick angel" and is so comfortable that he could fall asleep in the reclining upholstered seat if it were not so exhilarating. Like many others, John is still obviously very much in love when he talks about the aircraft.

Flight speeds in excess of the 80 mph Vne (velocity never exceed) have been achieved even with the little Zenoah G25B. Pitch problems at these higher test speeds were solved by a simple windscreen adjustment. The planes are said to be almost spin-proof due to the 6 degree dihedral of the outboard wings. This same neutral spiral stability allows the plane to "set-up" in grooving turns that make thermaling delightfully easy. Sink rate while gliding is 250 fpm.

Range is around 150 miles with the standard two-and-a-half gallon fuel tank of the A10B, but a five gallon option is also available. The T10 comes with a ten gallon tank that provides about four hours of flight time. The tank is placed close to the center of gravity since the changing weight of fuel during flight is enough to affect balance and performance.

Landing requires careful attention to airspeed during the approach. If three or four knots too fast, the Mitchell Wing will float an extra 150 yards down the runway. If too slow then pitch authority with the stabilators is lessened and the plane may "mush" downward at 400 fpm until flying speed is regained. Hitting the nose gear before the main wheels will bounce the plane lightly into the air followed by a hard touch-down.

John Rauqust installed a spring on his A10 nose-wheel to absorb some of this bounce. His advice is to approach at 40 mph and bleed off airspeed to 35 mph over the runway threshold. Hold it a foot off the ground and suck the stick back until flying speed is gone. Touch down at 30 mph on the main wheels an instant before the nose. Like all other aspects of flying a Mitchell Wing, this is not too difficult for an experienced pilot, just different from other airplanes.

Larry Smith insists on several hours of training in a T10 with a qualified instructor before anyone, even a skilled pilot, attempts to fly a Mitchell Wing. With its tremendous lift and low drag, the wing must be flown all the way to landing. If an approach is too high, it is possible to deflect both of the rudders outward (since they work in opposite directions without cross-linking). The 20 degree aft tilt of the big rudders angles them against the airstream to cut the glide ratio in half. They can also be used to push a wingtip down in crosswinds.

Once on the ground, the rudders can be folded down and pinned, then the outboard wings folded back over the inboard section. Tip to tip and fore to aft, the plane then measures 19í6"x 8' and is ready for storage or transport.

AmeriPlanes provides a special trailer with every kit sold. The plane is backed up onto the trailer facing sideways then strapped down. Reassembling to flight-readiness takes five to ten minutes (though the record is only 90 seconds!).

The kits are sold with all critical parts assembled at the factory. This includes the four attachment points of the outboard sections, essential presses, and foam core in the metal wings.

The hardest step is to assemble the halves of the fiberglass fuselage, though this is actually pretty simple and is not part of the ultralight A10B anyway. The buyer follows a step by step video showing how to attach the rudders, wing sections and body-frame. Building the A10D (deluxe) by a novice takes about 100 hours (70 for an expert). A T10D takes about 150 hours and only around 75 hours for a stripped-down T10B.

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