This first flew in the Czech Republic on 01-12-2022 before being containerised in its purpose-built Cobra trailer for shipping to Tim Harrison of Sports Aircraft New Zealand Ltd at Springhill, Wellsford to become the Company demonstrator. It is expected to be operational in NZ by late February.
The following is a very quick run-down leading up to the 304MS as I see it.
The Glasfugel (Glass Wing) 304 has an extensive history which can be traced back to pre-World War Two if you look at the designs from the Hutter brothers. But if we start in March 1964 we see the Glasflugel H 301 Libelle (H is for Hutter) first flew, followed by the H 201 Standard Libelle in October 1967 (with the Start & Flug Salto being a "V" tailed offshoot). Then in September 1973 the "T" tailed, shoulder mounted wing Glasflugel 205 Club Libelle took flight. From this developed the Glasflugel 206 Hornet in September 1974 and then the Glasflugel 303 Mosquito in March 1976.
In early 1975 Glasflugel was in financial difficulties and began co-operating with Schempp-Hirth (basically the opposition), then in 1978 the Glasflugel Company was reorganised following the death of Director Eugen Hanle. A new Company was formed by the well-known glider pilot and Director of Schempp-Hirth Klaus Holighaus plus a Mr Hillenbrand from Glasflugel - with the new Company continuing to use the Glasflugel name.
Then we have the Glasflugel 304 a succeeder to the 303 Mosquito but with Schempp-Hirth input.
The principal designer of the 304 was Martin Hansen who continued the Glasflügel tradition of the parallelogram control stick, combined trailing edge flaps and airbrakes, automatic trimming, heel-operated brakes, automatic control connections, the easy assembly of the wings and tailplane, the forward-opening canopy with lifting instrument panel are Glasflügel innovations now largely copied by other manufacturers.
The first flight was in May 1980 and it entered production shortly after.
Glasflügel however was financially struggling at this time and a partnership with Schempp-Hirth led to a surrender of technology until the company folded in 1982.
The 304 was put back in production by the Czech company HpH Ltd, as the Glasflügel 304CZ. This new production run used the original Glasflügel moulds. The 304CZ was updated with the addition of winglets and a few other changes, and has spawned several derivatives, namely a 17.43 metre span variant 304 CZ-17 and the 15 metre Standard Class 304 C Wasp.
In November 2006, HPH conducted the maiden flight of the completely new 18 metre 304 S Shark. The 304 S Shark features an all new 18 metre wing which gives a best glide of 51:1 (So from Mount Cook in still condition you could fly to Timaru without gaining additional lift
along the way).
The 304 S is larger than the 304 C and while interchangeable wing extensions are available for 15-metre or 18-metre span, the most common configuration is the 18-metre version.
The Shark is available in Self-Launch Versions (Shark MS) using the Solo 2625-01 engine
or as a sustainer using either a 400 N thrust Jet unit or with a Front-Electric-Sustainer (FES) solution.
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