The Super HP 18, Another Impression
Mike Glatiotis (January 2002)

I became the enthusiastic new owner of Udo Rumpf’s (and then Paul Tolson’s) HP 18  CF-ETQ late  in the summer of 1999.  I had just previously sold my beloved standard Cirrus, JM, and was facing the prospects of flying at a brand new club (Canadian Rockies Soaring Club) in an exceptionally beautiful part of the world (Invermere, BC), without the benefit of my own ship.  Timing was perfect for Paul Tolson to sell, and for me to buy.  Besides, ET certainly is a pretty ship, and the performance claims made it just what I was looking for to explore the Canadian Rockies.

I was from the very start impressed with the quality of workmanship that Udo had put into the ship.  It truly must have been a labour of love, from the reprofiling of the wings, to the new canopy, to the instrument panel, and his innovative rigging aids and everything in between.  It was attention to detail that gave me the confidence to strap on these “homebuilt’ wings and take to the Rockies.

I can’t say that my transition to the ’18 was all that easy, coming from the standard Cirrus background, as it was. My only other significant time was in a Jantar Standard and Blaniks.   Here was another handful of controls that made significant difference, and no spoilers!  Man, what a landing attitude!!!  At first, I missed the handling of the Cirrus, encountering a slower roll rate than I had been used to, and not quite the same climb (or was I mistaken??), but after about 50 hours, I settled into the ship. The 90 degree flap landing took (and I dare say sometimes still does take) a bit of getting used to (especially if the nose is dipping into tall grass on landing), but with time I really began to appreciate the short field and relatively low energy landing capability.  The hydraulic wheel brake makes those landings even shorter. (But not nearly as short as a wheel up landing: There are those who have and those who will, but pity those idiots who manage to do it twice! (sorry JM and ET ;-)   Slowly I began to stretch my legs in the Columbia Valley .   I quickly learned that any perceived deficiencies in roll and climb were amply compensated by a surprisingly flat glide at much higher speeds than I had ever enjoyed in old JM, and the ridges and ranges around Invermere began to open up to me.

Although I do have a few hours of flying ET over the prairies and in the Rocky Mountain Lee Wave at Cowley Alberta, it was in the mountains that her performance really shone.  The ridges of the Rockies offered a great opportunity to push ET in the direction she loves best: running fast and straight, following topography to dolphin amongst the ridge thermals.  I never tried her with water (I think she takes about 100litres in the wing spar) because she simply met and exceeded my expectations without.  In many ridge runs with ASW 20’s, this HP 18 appeared to be very well matched in speed and glide, if not always in climb.  It opened the door to respectable +100km/hr average speeds for many 300km and a couple of 500km tasks. 

Although that roll rate isn’t what a German Glass slipper might expect, the slow speed handling is very docile, with no tendency to want to flip unexpectedly into an incipient or worse.  I was flying at about 190lb all up within a permitted range of 154 to 239lbs.  Speeds just above stall give a very typical mushy response, and the glider appeared reluctant to make a gradual stall entry.  Initially, I had been informed that I could easily takeoff with +4 or even +8 degree flaps, but experimentation truly demonstrated that the ground roll was most effective starting with -8 degrees, and gently rotating  to +8 as the ship sped up.  I found myself most comfortable thermalling with +4 flap at about 50knots, although in proximity to terrain I would add a bit of speed and sometimes a bit more flap, as well.  At 60 Knots, it felt like 0 degree was the best, at 70 I would have -4, and past 80 knots, -8 degrees would feel like someone let go of the tail.  Generally, I would fly the flap “pressure” for whatever speed I happened to be going, and the ridge runs were most effective at anywhere from 70-90 knots, dolphining and following topography.

I was lead to make a few additions to improve comfort in the ship, including installing a fixed Oxygen system and an ELT, as well as replacing the radio with a new Microaire with boom mike.  A Colibri GPS logger finished off the panel, further opening up a cross country world promoted by today’s On Line Contest.    I was  inclined to purchase a Confor TM foam pad after a rather grueling 10 hour flight!  Other than that,  Udo’s  pee relief system, consisting of a 1 litre bottle under the instrument panel, with a handy filler bulb and siphon draining system is the easiest and most comfortable system my small bladder has ever enjoyed in flight!  No changes needed there.

With the one-piece canopy, visibility is exceptional, and I most appreciated this on my many scenic tours through the Rocky, Purcell, and Selkirk mountains.  I’m happy to say that ET has provided me with a great photo album of many unique mountain perspectives.  She has taken me far afield from Invermere, over the highest peaks in the Rockies, to majestic Icefields and through Canada’s beautiful Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper National Parks.  I’ve been ‘captured’ by park wardens for off field landing at Banff’s Airstrip, and buzzed skiers, snowmobilers and climbers from Lake Louise to the Bugaboos.   ET has been my viewing platform for Mountain sheep and Mountain Goats, Elk and Grizzly bears, and a companion of the Bald and Golden eagles that make their home there.  

All in all, ET has been a real joy to fly, but as in anything, it is advancement that keeps things interesting, and I’m looking forward to a new ship and new opportunities that it might provide.  I hope that the next successor in line gleans as much satisfaction from the SuperHP18 as I have.  Her longest flight to date has been a very satisfying 869km, and I am hoping that this spring, before she sells, I’ll see the conditions to complete a Canadian Territorial 1000km.  Not bad, for a homebuilt. 

Thank you, Udo.