Wingboard: A New Sport For Those Who Loves Furious Feeling
Whenever you’re onboard an airplane, have you ever asked yourself: “What is it out there?”
Remember Kit Cloudkicker? Millennials grew up watching TaleSpin, dreaming of carving through the sky like Kit on his airfoil. With the Wyp WingBoard, surfing the clouds is finally a reality. Whether it’s wakeboarding, gliding, skydiving, wing walking, or flying with a wingsuit, adventure enthusiasts continue to push the envelope. The WingBoard takes the thrill of these adventure sports to another dimension, combining the exhilaration of prolonged flight with the rush that comes from being in control.
Pilots Sean Tucker and Chuck Aaron continue to push the limits of aircraft maneuverability and performance, while the designs of inventors such as Burt Rutan explore the outer reaches of aerodynamics. The passion of these contemporary aviation greats has inspired Wyp Aviation to pursue development of the WingBoard to go beyond what has been considered possible and explore this revolutionary new way of experiencing flight.
The WingBoard works through a close coupling of the rider, tow rope, and WingBoard itself. The best analog is to look at the WingBoard as a wakeboard in three dimensions. The WingBoard is just that: a wing that provides lift. The shape is designed to provide a stable center of gravity for the rider on board, while maintaining maneuverability. The rider stands in an upright stance, similar to a wakeboarder, allowing himself or herself to lean and twist in all directions, while still maintaining a stable stance to brace against the towed forces. The rider is attached to the board via a binding, similar to a snowboard binding, providing a flexible connection to the board.
A key design feature is the tow rope connection. A single tow rope Y is approximately 10 feet in front of the rider: the lower line connects to the WingBoard, while the upper line goes to a tow bar, which the rider holds. The tow bar is then connected to the rider in a manner similar to a kite surfer, alleviating the loads the rider must bear. The Y tow line serves two purposes:
- Force Reduction: The tow line splits the forces between the rider and the board. The WingBoard takes half of the force, reducing the force the rider must hold by half, for example only 80 lbs at a speed of 100mph. It also reduces the balance forces required, as the rider no longer has to balance the board beneath him: instead he rides on top of it.
- Stability: The Y tow rope and the rider form a triangle with 3 fixed sides. This limits the pitch angle of the board, preventing it from slipping into an unstable configuration. It also allows the rider to assume a relaxed upright position, which results in a stable position behind the tow plane.
The WingBoard is controlled via two methods. The primary control input is the rider’s position. Leaning forward and backward changes the angle of the tow rope triangle, thereby altering the WingBoard’s angle of attack, vertical position behind the tow plane, and amount of lift generated. The rider also leans and rotates to the side to place the board at that angle, using a side component of the lift vector to pull out to one side or the other of the tow plane. In addition to the rider’s position, force sensors in the foot bindings and on the tow bar allow the rider to input additional roll commands. These commands further aid in rolling the WingBoard to the side and allow for spectacular aileron rolls.
How do you start your flight on a WingBoard?
The initial thought was to deploy it from an aircraft in flight; however, stability issues and forces on deployment quickly ruled this out. Instead, a Wing Boarder starts the same way a glider starts: on tow behind the tow plane. The WingBoard is equipped with landing gear, allowing a rolling takeoff. The tow rope design permits the rider to maintain a relaxed position while allowing the tow plane and WingBoard to do all the work. Safety in the event of a tow plane engine failure has been a specific consideration and is covered in the safety section below.
How do you land the WingBoard? Two options exist for landing: a rolling landing and landing via parachute. A rolling landing is performed just as a normal landing is, though the tow plane pilot must pay attention to the WingBoard’s distance from the runway. This maneuver is practiced by gliders in the event that a tow rope becomes stuck and they are unable to separate from the tow plane. The rider may also elect to disconnect from the tow line and use his or her parachute for landing.
Wyp WingBoard is founded by Aaron Wypyszynski, a Chicago-based Aeronautical Engineer whose passion for aviation first became quite obvious when he built an airplane out of Lego Duplo blocks and began “flying” it around the house at the age of four. After growing up tinkering and collecting model airplanes, Aaron began flying full-scale aircraft at age 13, soloed at 16, and has not looked back since. When it came time to pick a career, there was no question which direction Aaron would choose.
Aaron has worked the last five years as a flight test engineer in Huntsville, Alabama. He spends his free time flying Young Eagles in his 172 (originally owned by Steve Wittman); building a full-scale airplane, modeled after the Wittman Buttercup; and dreaming up crazy ideas like the Wyp WingBoard.