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Creation of the World Class
A Summary History


by David S. Habercom

The International Gliding Commission, under auspices of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, began discussing creation of a new glider class in the mid-1980s. IGC members, an international group representing soaring worldwide, recognized a need for a glider satisfying several general requirements:

  • substantially lower costs than then-current new gliders
  • easy & safe handling in the air and on the ground
  • a single design, stabilized for a period of years
  • performance sufficient for badges & challenging competition
  • simple construction
  • suitable for clubs, private owners & early solo pilots.
Overall, the IGC planned to announce a design competition open to all, followed by a prototype test competition, and then to declare one ship the World Class glider. The owner of the design would make the engineering drawings and specifications available to any individual or company in the world in exchange for a one-time design fee and a royalty on each glider manufactured. The IGC would guarantee that the World Class would not allow changes from original specs for fifteen years.

To meet these general aims and after much debate, the IGC agreed to certain design objectives, including the following:
  • compliance with JAR-22, Category U, including cloud flying
  • max stall 65 km/h at max mass, most unfavorable cg, airbrakes opened or closed
  • airbrakes for speed limiting & glidepath control required
  • sideslip possible with brakes opened or closed
  • effective wheel brake
  • automatic elevator hookup
  • a "crash-friendly" panel
  • ddtwo-handed canopy jettison actuating releases on both sides
  • seat & harness good to 15g’s forward
  • battery, oxygen, equipment restraint good to 20g’s
  • adequate cockpit ventilation
  • fixed landing gear
  • no flaps or camber-changing devices
  • no water or in-flight adjustable ballast
  • no wingtip extensions of more than 10cm up or down
  • no blowing or sucking of boundary layer
  • maximum L/D: 30 or greater
  • minimum sink: 0.75 m/s or less at max mass max roll rate at 1.4 Vs = b w 3.5 sec (b=span in meters)
  • accommodate pilots to 6"4"
  • provision for non-disposable ballast
  • panel to hold ASI, altimeter, compass, 2 varios, T&S ind
  • space for radio, O2, battery, barograph, fixed cameras
  • winch, aero & auto launches possible & safe
  • rigged easily by two average people
  • easily moved on ground.
In November 1989, the IGC issued a worldwide call for proposals. By February 1990, it had received 84 requests for design specifications from 25 countries.

By August 1990, the IGC had received 42 design proposals from 20 countries. In September 1990, after reviewing the proposals, many of which came with models, the IGC recommended that 11 designs from 9 countries proceed to the prototype competition.

In October 1992, the IGC inspected and tested 6 prototypes from 5 countries at Oerlinghausen Germany. After further review and collecting manufacturing data, in spring 1993 the IGC declared the PW-5, designed by a faculty/student team at Warsaw University of Technology, the first World Class glider.


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