Doodlebug by Brad
I think you may have spoken with my friend Gary on the phone today while I was flying. He told me that a potiential Doodlebug customer had called from Louisiana. Thanks for your inquiry.
We are very pleased with the Doodlebug powered harness here. It works well with almost any modern era hang glider wing. The trike training you have received will prove valuable if you transition into the bug. Even more so, any hang gliding experience will also be most valuable. We can train you here, or you can use http://www.ushga.org to find a hang gliding school nearer you.
The main concept that you must grasp in whole is proper angle-of-attack management. You can apply this concept to almost any wing while landing or taking off. With the Doodlebug powered harness you can choose either to use your legs to help provide thrust or just to simply support you and your wing while the prop pushes you along. With the latter choice, your legs and feet are providing the same function as the wheels and landing gear on a trike. Yes, you will still need to run and "keep up" with the wing, but you are just following along instead of pushing anything forward with your leg muscles. At first you are sort of dancing and letting the unit accelerate to a jogging pace for you. The mid-range is easy (if you keep the AOA correct) since this is in the speed range that you are familiar with while jogging and then running. The final phase of the take-off run is a "moon-walk" or "gooney-bird" experience. You've never been here before so the experience is a little wierd at first. The wing is generating enough lift at this point so that your legs are only supporting a fraction of their normal impact loads with each step. Therefore, you can take incredibly long strides each time. Soon (if you keep your angle-of-attack properly adjusted) you are no longer required to kiss the ground with the soles of your shoes and the unit flys off straight ahead with a somewhat respectible climb angle.
When a safe altitude is obtained you can slide back in the seat, kick your legs over the base bar, and move your arms behind the twin support straps. A final (optional) move is to utilize the foot sturrip which also retracts the gear legs. Now you're Doodlebuggin'! Once you reach a thermal, the core is easy to spot and test. If you've got a positive climb with the engine at idle just cut the dang thing off and go soaring. In-air re-starts are easy with either the kick starter or the electric start option. The engine controls are easy to find and use on this unit.
Now the landing. . . Honestly, it is easier to land a hang glider with the DoodleBug attached than it is without it. This is true regardless of whether the engine is running or shut off. The reason for this once again comes down to angle-of-attack (AOA) management. Since the rear legs are supporting approximately 30 pounds, the wing is given a bit of relief once these legs touch the ground. If the wing was just above stall when the legs touched, now there is suddenly more margin above stall since the wing has been somewhat unloaded. This gives the pilot plenty of time to do a graceful flare and take a few walking steps while the gear legs are providing some grass drag for deceleration. It is really a piece-of-cake to land this thing*.
I love hang gliding. I like trikes okay, but I don't like all that drag, weight, and constant noise. Even the lite trikes are too heavy and draggy for my tastes, since I enjoy thermal soaring above all else, and since I live in the humid south where the best lift on any given day is often weak. If you don't live near a mountain or tow operation and you also like to soar these type wings, then a Doodlebug harness is a smart choice. Lightweight, compact, simple, reliable, and easy*. What more could you want?
* with proper HG training it is indeed easy, and the turning characteristics of the glider are not adversely affected by the unit.
Tuesday Was Good -- Oct 2, 2002
Weather to Fly -- Sept 21, 2002