My own project, the Open Pou

A primary glider build by kids for kids

My teacher once said "a genius can be recognized by the simplicity of his design". Two decades later i found out he was right and ...that i still had to learn a lot about simplicity.

The Flying Flea has been around for many manydecades, but ... i thought that the world missed a easy way to learn to fly it.  Ok, you can simply jump into your Flying Flea, make a hundred groundruns, several hops and at last take off andland as quick as possible. Voila, first flight done.But another way caught my eye. It was a Lithuanian project where they teach children touse the Lak 16 primary glider. They use a closed loop winch that only gets the kids at low heights but high enough to learn the basics of steering. I thought that it might be a good way to learn to fly the Flying Flea. I found out that in the past many primary gliders were used to teach to fly. Thegerman SG-38 seemed to be simplicity itself. Work of a genius?? Maybe a good source of inspiration.

"Hey ...wait a minute", i thought. As a Flying Flea the glider would be 2 axis (just a stick) and by the fact i wanted a total open design, i could make the glider accessable for wheelchair users too! Man, what would the smile on the face of adisabled young person be shining when he would be able to proof himself doing something that not many can. Imagine him being a pilot.The Open Pou project was started with that intention.

My first draft gives away that the SG-38 was my inspiration. Using the Open Pou Yahoo group i told about my idea and showed many drafts that came by the minute. Here i let you see a few.


During a holiday at sea my son asked to use a fish shaped go-kart. It was looking like a glasfibre plate with fish-like silouette with a hole in it where you cansit. I saw a new possible glider frame in it. Could i use a foam with plywood on both sides as a frame?Several group members thought it could be done, but it seemed to be very heavy.

Hans Engels, a member of the Open Pou Yahoogroup, gave his idea of combining the foam frame with rectangular tubes. It became the basis of the Open Pou design.


Many details were added by me.

  • A fabric covering supported by flexible tentsticks to get some more aerodynamic shape inflight.
  • Rounded wingtips while only using one size ofrib.
  • A own system of rib making. Inspired by the system of Alfons Gillis, a old, remarkable pouducielist that lived near me.
  • The steering system was a result of seeing arigidwing hangglider steering. My version pushedthe front of the front wing instead of pulling therear spar. Pierre Mignet advised me at themeeting at Saint André sur l'Eure in France not todo it this way. He had bad experiences with arocketsystem of a recovery parachute that wayinstalled at the front of the front wing of aHM1000. It seemed to make the wing get less lift.That was the only negative remark he gave. Oh yes, he mentioned that it would be a wonderful view downwards.

During that meeting i had the front wing of the Open Pou with me. It was constructed byvolenteer students of my school during noonbreaks. Their age varied between 13 to 16 years! I guided them by telling them what to do. They proofed able to do all the tasks. Ok, plan reading was not their best quality. But i envy their drive and will to spend most of their noonbreaks in a dusty workhouse.Several of the volunteers. Top line (left to right): Jeroen, Thijs, Stefan, me and Ian. Kneeling: Karel-Marc, Sam

The project was at first welcomed by my schoolsdirector. Sadly ...later it was seen as a bad thing for school. Also ... the wood used in the spar (oregon) became protected by law. I dared not to ask HansEngels to redo the calculations for the spar in another material. I tried to convince the director it would be a good composite project. But he shelved the entire project. Wood or composite. Sad it did not cost him any money. I did it all with personal fundings.

It would have been a nice asset to the Flying Flea collection. It still would. So ...take the challenge to complete the Open Pou project.