|The Victory Wing built
by Don Mitchell in 1983.
(Text by Richard Avalon.)
I was spending a lot of time with Don and I asked
him if he could build me an ultralight version of the U-2. The standard
U-2 weighed 320 pounds and we were shooting for 254 pounds and a stall
speed of under 27 mph; the standard U-2 stalled at 32 mph. So he
built this ship for me.
He did several things different with this airplane. He used a wooden
spar but light weight foam for the leading and trailing
edges, and this was hollowed out to save weight.
He then fiberglassed the whole ship with (I think) only one layer of light
fiberglass cloth. He made the pod the same way. He built in
leading edge slats in the outer panels to also reduce landing speeds, which
were very effective.
We installed a direct drive KFM twin cylinder 22 hp motor, which weighted
only about 50 pounds complete. He started out with a single wheel
but switched to a small duel wheel arrangement attached to the pod.
We almost met the weight requirement so we installed a ballistic parachute
to gain the extra 10 pounds that we needed.
Don finished the airplane, did the CG, weight and balance, rigged it,
all in Mariposa, and took it to Porterville for test flying. I did
some taxi work and then took it out to the main runway to do some high
speed taxiing. At about 150 feet into the first run, I was pulling
back on the stick to see at what speed the front wheel would unstick, and
the airplane took off. Of course I was a bit suprised, to say
the least, but what suprised me even more, it felt perfect.
I'm about 25 ft off the ground, stick is centered, the airplane is flying
straight and level, in trim. So I decided to just go for it.
I flew it around the pattern a couple of times and to say that Don is a
great airplane builder is putting it mildly. Right out of the box
it flew perfect.
The only problem was that we were under propped, not enough pitch.
So back to the shop and as fate would have it the ship never was flown
again. We moved to Tehachapi and set up shop there and went on to
the next project, the Stealth II. I do have the wing now. I
took it apart with all of the control settings 'set', and I plan
on reconfiguring the airplane to look more like Wolfgang
Uhl's U-2 in Germany. And I will still try to keep it in
the ultralight category. Can you imagine, a U-2, with power, as a
true ultralight? This was another, unfinished,
chapter in the Don Mitchell aviation history story.