American Eaglet by Larry Haig

The American Eaglet, by Larry Haig, was an ultralight self-launching sailplane, available in plan or kit form, that enjoyed some success, but also had some limitations.

Specs for the American Eaglet

  • 3-axis, inverted V-tail motorised ultralight sailplane with folding prop.
  • Length 16ft, Height 3ft 6ins, span 36ft
  • root chord 2.6ft, tip chord 1.6ft, dihedral 1 degree AR 18:1
  • Weight Empty = 170lb including engine (MC101)
  • Cruise speed 60mph, best glide 24:1 @ 60mph sink: 200fpm/45mph
  • Stall 39mph
  • Construction: Wing = glass fibre & foam on spruce spars

Comments by Phil Rendahl

May 7, 1998: The American Eaglet or "AmEagle" is pictured on page 172 in the 1980 edition of Jane's World Sailplanes. It is probably the first true ultralite motorglider ever built with an empty weight of 160-lb. It first flew in November 1975, before most ultralite's had even been thought of or heard of. It was built by Larry Haig and used a Mac 101B engine of 12hp with a folding nylon 2 blade propellor. The wings used a spruce spar and contoured urethane foam with pre-molded fiberglass skins. Similar construction was used for the inverted V-tail. The pod was fiberglass shell with an aluminum tail boom. Obviously it is proof that ultralite motorgliders can be built within the FAR 103 rules. As far as I know only 1 ship was built and I have tried to contact Mr Haig who I believe now lives in Florida and works at Disney World, to see if I could track down either the original airplane or plans so one could be put into a museum of antique aircraft but I have gotten no response.

May 8, 1998: There are no stall speed requirements for an ultralite sailplane, only for motorized ultralites, which it would have been. However, Mr. Haig did not know about any of that stuff because FAR 103 had not yet been written. The point is that his building techniques were far in advance of the present ultralite community and documented in Jane's as early as 1978. His little bird was about as light as a Lazair while being fully enclosed before Lazairs were even built. Hmmm!!!, using a JPX D30 electric start 19-hp engine, (which direct drive only weighs about 20-lbs without the muffler or about 30-lbs with the re-drive unit) the spruce spar could be replaced with a big carbon fiber tube (stronger and lighter) and the 72 square feet wing area he used could be increased to reduce the stall speed and still stay within the FAR 254-lb limit. It's true the nylon prop was the weak spot so if someone would suggest where to get a nice folding prop like the one used on the Sunseeker or on the Solaire.... Manufacturers where are you??

Comments by David Bettencourt

May 8, 1998: Aloha: I've posted this before and will do so again; the Eaglet lacked sufficient stability to be considered safe. That was the judgment of the experienced (hanggliders, F-102's, 727, 737, sailplane) pilot who built and flew one here in Hawaii. As this individual still holds the Hawaii altitude record (over Oahu) in a Kona wind wave, and is now planning to go 45K plus over over the Big Island, I value his judgment. I know the Eaglet changed hands recently, and I think it was taken to the mainland.

Some Pilot Reports on the American Eaglet