RHJ-8 AT ALBERNI*
By Don Matheson
The recent article by Kurt Moser on the building of the three RHJ-8s in the 4/90 issue of free flight caught my attention. I’m sure you would like to know of the whereabouts of one of the aircraft mentioned. Werner Kilsch sold his aircraft, # HP002, to Al Martini of Tiburon, California in 1971. It carried US registration N51AM and is shown on page 57 of the 1983 SSA Soaring Sailplane Directory. Mr. Martini had several modifications done including removing the CG hook and locating an aerotow TOST hook directly under the control columns, added a hydraulic brake, made the wheel fully retractable with gear warning buzzer, and replaced the tailskid with a swivelling tail-wheel. The dash panel, all the canopies, turtledeck and fuselage to wing fairings are new. He flew it 269 hours over the past 18 years for a total of 314 hours on the ship when I purchased it in July of 1989. It has since been reimported to Canada, and reregistered as C-FAJT as this was still available and appropriate.
The sailplane is based in Port Alberni and I fly as a member of the Alberni Valley Soaring Association. These past few months I have been attempting my Silver badges with it, and just completed a 1400 metre gain and a 6.6 hour flight on 27 August. Incidentally, I have the original logbook and note that Werner Kilsch also did a 6.6 hour flight, 2 August, 20 years previous to the month.
It is a nice handling ship, thermalling flapless at 48-50 knots, 44-48 knots with +5 flap and will centre tight thermals at 42 knots and +15 flap. It has full control, still flying at 35 knots full 90 degree flaps. Best L/D is around 37 at around 55 knots and she cruises 60-75 knots nicely with -5 flap. All stalls are docile with flap, much like a trainer. With no flap the elevator buffet is crisp several knots above stall, so releasing a little back pressure has her flying under complete control. RHJ-8s fly beautifully and are a credit to their creators—and yes, it still whistles loudly with flaps extended in a steep decent.
* Port Alberni is a lumber mill town on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
Originally published in the May 1990 issue of Free Flight and provided to this site by Tony Burton.