The Ruppert Archaeopteryx could be your personal hang glider. Designed by Roger Ruppert and produced by Ruppert Composite GmbH, it is a Swiss high-wing, pod-and-boom, single-seat, microlift glider. It derives its name from the feathered Archaeopteryx dinosaur, generally regarded as the oldest known bird.
Design and Development
The Archaeopteryx design started in 1998 at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHW) as a research project. The idea was to create a foot-launchable microlift sailplane. The design goals were to achieve light empty weight, low stall speed with gentle stall characteristics, good maneuverability and good high-speed performance. A further goal was to make the sailplane foot-launchable even in zero wind conditions.
As per the company website:
- The maiden flight of the initial prototype was in 2001
- The project was accepted by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation, FOCA in 2002
- The production prototype design was started in 2006
- First delivery for Archaeopteryx Glider was made in 2010
- Electric propulsion was introduced in 2014 to allow self-launching, and the first delivery for Archaeopteryx Electro was made
The Archaeopteryx has conventional sailplane controls, minimum weight, simple rigging, and very low minimum speed. The company says it has well behaved flight characteristics and outstanding climbing ability in updraughts. They add that its good gliding and climb performance enables cross-country flights even when there are only light updraughts. The cockpit – can stay open or enclosed as preferred – is comfortable even for long flights.
As an additional safety feature the Archaeopteryx has a specifically developed rocket driven rescue system. The pilot is connected to the aircraft and the rescue system at all times, by his safety harness. The whole aircraft system with pilot descends on the parachute.
The Archaeopteryx has many different launch methods:
The lift off speed on a foot launch from a slope is the same as for a hang glider. The company says, “with suitable slope and appropriate training, it is possible to launch in windless conditions. The hands bear no load, the machine is not in ground contact. The flight controls are operational and used during the launch.”
There are two different bungee lengths, and the bungee catapult is possible from a shallow or a steep slope.
The company claims that you can fit or remove the electro-drive motor in 5 minutes without tools. So, the Archaeopteryx can turn from a pure glider to electro glider and back pretty quickly. With the electro-drive, it can take off independently on a hard surface and – by using a quick release auxiliary wheel – on grass.
You can tow launch the Archaeopteryx using Trike-Tow, Aerotow, or Car Tow.
Landing on the undercarriage
The approach speed is very low and you can control the glidepath angle with the flap. This permits small space approaches and landings on typical hang glider operating sites, small emergency fields, and normal airfields too.
With enough experience and training, it is possible to foot land the aircraft. The approach is planned into wind for the foot landing. A running foot landing is also possible in still wind conditions but requires a lot of skill.
UPDATED on 26th Sep, 2022: The fuselage of the Archaeopteryx is available in three different versions (configurations):
- Standard – Basic design for the open cockpit experience
- Race – Comfortable sailplane feel thanks to the full cockpit enclosure
- Electro – Completely independent free flight thanks to the quickly fitted electric motor system
Pricing starts from 72,900 CHF (about US$73,328) for the Standard version and goes up to 99,300 CHF (about US$99,814) for the Electro. Check out their website to place an order or learn more about the Archaeopteryx personal hang glider.