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WASPAIR-KAGEL H.M.81 “Tomcat Tourer”

Robin Haynes, President of the Waspair Corporation, developed the Tomcat in 1980. In order to develop such an unconventional design, Robin and the Waspair engineers began the project by doing five months of original research before the first drawings were even finalized.

The original prototype, the H.M.80, first flew in May of 1980. The original Tomcat was not a great success, though it did fulfill its purpose: the basic design would work. Just how well it would work had to wait until the second prototype, the H.M.81, was finished in October of 1980. The first flight of the H.M.81 was much more successful. The Tomcat flew just beautifully and gave the design team such confidence that within minutes Robin was pushing ahead into the advanced test program.

Robin spent the end of 1980 experimenting with different airfoils, making trim adjustments, and tidying up the design for production. Waspair’s own mobile “wind tunnel” was used to test pitch stability at acute angles and to dynamically test airframe strength.

The H.M.81 concept is actually fairly simple. The straight main wing was supported by two dihedral wings which were swept thirteen degrees back. These dihedral wings were the major lateral stabilizing surfaces and they were as effective as a fin. The all-moving canard wing controlled pitch and yaw/roll while providing inherent longitudinal stability. The Tomcat was powered by a 30 hp Zenoah 430cc engine.

The spacey appearance of the Tomcat might imply spacey handling as well, but in fact, the H.M.81 handling was solid and responsive. Turns were automatically coordinated and control pressures were light and positive. The elevator and rudder responses were both fully trimmable. Foot launch capability was conserved in the design, so the Tomcat could be flown without a pilot’s license.

The Tomcat was sold as an all inclusive kit for home assembly. Chuck Kagel donated his H.M.81 to the EAA AirVenture Museum in 1990.

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