A gathering of Canards-SPB Wonderboom 16 June 2018

By Willie Bodenstein

The term 'Canard', that may be used to describe an aircraft itself, the wing configuration or the foreplane is loosely defined as an aeronautical arrangement wherein a small forewing or foreplane is placed forward of the main wing of a fixed-wing aircraft.

A Velocity that parked at the Sport Plane Builders hangar on Saturday. Owned by Eddie Scholtz of Bethlehem she needs some refurbishing before she will once again be airworthy

Despite the use of a very rudimentary canard surface on the first powered aeroplane, the Wright Flyer of 1903, canard designs were not built in quantity until the appearance of the Saab Viggen jet fighter in 1967.

Jason Boshoff flew Johan Lombard's Vari EZ to Wonderboom

The Long-EZ had a range of 2,010 miles (3,230 km), over twice that of the VariEze

A sleek Velocity 173 RG Elite

In the kitplane movement the Canard is synonymous with Burt Rutan whose VariViggen that first flew in April 1972 popularize both the canard configuration and the use of mouldless composite construction in the homebuilt aircraft industry. The VariViggen with its forward canard and pusher configuration did not only revolutionise the kitplane industry but became Rutan's trademark. Other manufacturers were quick to follow.

Members of the Canard Owners Group

The canard owners group came to life during a conversation between Pierre van der Walt and Riaan van Niekerk and a Whatsup Group was established that was soon populated by all owners of the rather unconventional aircraft. At Wonderboom it was decided to make the fly-in an annual event.

Dave O'Neill and passenger John Mckerchar in ZS-VMX a Long EZ was one of the Springs based visitors

Walter and Irma de Graaf visited in ZS-VUF their Long EZ

As did Herbert and Barbara de Graaf in their Long EZ ZU-FFR

Riaan Van Niekerk and Markus vd Westhuizen flew from Namibia in the Velocity

Marco Schmidt and Darrel May visited in the Velocity 173 RG Elite

There are an estimated 14 canards in South Africa and on Saturday 16 June seven flew into Wonderboom for what was the first gathering of the type. Two more were in the hangar of Sport Plane Builders where they are currently being completed to flying condition. Five of the seven are based at Springs Airfield, one flew from Baragwanath and one all the way from Namibia.

One of the airworthy Canards, the Cozy of Rego Burger that was based in Port Elizabeth crashed whilst on a test flight to ready it for the journey up north. Rego sadly did not survive the accident and during the meeting a minute of silence was held to pay honour to his legacy.

Visitors had the opportunity to mingle and meet during breakfast that was served in the Dak Shack compliments of Pierre van der Walt of Sport Plane.

The success of the SAAB Viggen spurred many designers and the close-coupled canard delta remains a popular configuration for combat aircraft. Canard surfaces sprouted on a number of types derived from the popular Dassault Mirage delta-winged jet fighter. These included variants of the French Dassault Mirage III, Israeli IAI Kfir and South African Atlas Cheetah as well as the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Thyphoon.

The handling characteristics, unusual futuristic designs, pusher prop, long slender swept back wings and apron appeal that always draw people to it has made the kitplane canards a popular choice as a home build project for those that want something different to the usual run of the mill conventional aircraft.

Events 2018

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