A New Glider Flies in Richland

A Saga by Eric Greenwell

Glen Rieboldt flew his recently completed HP- 18 for the first time on Oct 25. This simple fact is the end of a convoluted path from dream to reality. Here's the story:

The glider apparently began it's journey as a kit purchased by Terrence P. Repp in Indiana, who sold it to Wayne Trenary (Vashon Island) in May '94 .

Unhappily, Wayne died after completing the trailer and about 70% of the glider. His widow sold the kit to Art Napier of Kennewick in early '97. Art then bought a Koenig ultralite engine with a folding prop, intending to motorize the HP18 when it was completed. This project was canceled after minimal progress when Art joined with Jim Leedy (Richland) to purchase a Vivat motorglider (which became a Taifun 17, but that is another story), and Art sold the HP- 18 project to another club member, Max Conner (also of Kennewick), in September, '97. Max brought the project to about 85%, then he decided to leave soaring, offering the glider and powerplant components for sale separately. The engine sold to a fellow with a homebuilt glider on the East coast in March of '98. Glen Rieboldt (also of Kennewick) then bought the glider and trailer from Max in April and began the last 15 % of the project. Glen says if that was 15%, the other guys must have put 1200 hours into the project!

Glen also wanted to motorize the glider. He located a TOP unit in California, which he purchased from Terry Watkins, who previously used it in an ASW 20. This is a commercially produced powerplant package originally designed to convert an ASW 20 to a motorglider. It is a completely self-contained, streamlined module that mounts on the top of the fuselage over the wing. The module has a 24 hp 430SC Koenig engine, exactly like Art had purchased in the beginning, with an extension mechanism for the engine, a folding propeller, gas tank, muffler, and starter. A bulkhead is added to the glider to mount the engine, along with a throttle cable, starting battery, and electrical connectors.

Unfortunately, one of the three ignition coils is fried, so Glenn tried to contact the manufacturer of the TOP unit, who turned out is no longer in business, and, he discovered, neither is motor manufacturer! It took Glen several months of Internet searching and phone calls to locate Peter Koenig (one of the original owners and/or designers of the Koenig facility/engine) who had sold the design to an Italian firm. He was going to work for the company in Italy, redesigning the engine and adding a generator. They had no spare parts, but Peter told him the ignition system manufacturer was Phalon in Aiken, NC! The fellow he talked to at Phalon was very helpful, but could not promise any replacement parts for while, because the coil production was in a part of Puerto Rico that had just been devastated by a hurricane. The only contact was over a cell phone, and production would be delayed for "quite a while."

Meanwhile, the trailer (built from a Schreder kit by Wayne Trenary, remember?) was sitting outside, empty, at the Pasco airport, when some very strong winds moved it to the other side of the fence in a violent manner. So, when Glen was finally ready to test fly the glider, he had to borrow a trailer from Art Napier (remember Art ... he brought this saga to our area?). The trailer is another Schreder trailer, which is for Art's RS-15 (but that's another story).

In the meantime, Glen has a lovely glider to fly, and eventually, the other motorglider pilots in the Tri-Cities hope to welcome Glen to our fold. That will make seven motorglider pilots and eight motorgliders (Bob Moore still has two but is selling one but has another on order, which he will actually own in partnership with Jim Leedy, who hasn't been a partner with Art Napier since Art got the DG 400 that Tom Seim now owns, but that's a different story). There is a motorglider and pilot in the area that is not counted in this line-up because he hasn't actually flown his Nimbus 3DT yet, and we're not sure he will, but that's also another story.