One of the top ten most interesting new aircraft seen at the Aero 2010 International Exhibition for General Aviation in Friedrichshafen, Germany, was the Woopy-Fly as reported in a recent edition of e-Hotline. The Swiss inventor Laurent de Kalbermatten has conceived a new inflatable wing design that bridges the functional gap between paragliders and hang gliders. The Woopy first appeared in a version called the Woopy-Jump and is used as a jump extender on ski slopes.
The Woopy-Fly weight-shift wing has a single aluminum and carbon fiber spar which gives strength to the inflated fabric structure. It folds for storage like a paraglider and is initially inflated with a battery-powered fan. Once in flight, the low pressurization is maintained with two small air scoops on the underside of the wing. It is said the wing will maintain its shape even if a hole is punched in the wing.
The Woopy first appeared in a version called the Woopy-Jump and is used as a jump extender on ski slopes. Photos on the Woopy website and this YouTube video show ski jumpers floating across crevices and valleys and skimming down slopes in a manner quickly recognized as flying by any hang glider pilot. The Woopy-Fly wing functions as hang glider or can be flown as a weight-shift ultralight with internal combustion engine or electric power. The 21-square-meter Woopy-Fly has a span of 31 feet and an aspect ratio of 4.5 and weighs 35 pounds. Setup time is said to be 12 minutes, and the wing can be transported in the trunk of a conventional car. The design is revolutionary for ultralights because it has the portability and light weight of a paraglider or powered parachute without the requirement to lay out the canopy on the ground and execute a kiting launch. See more photos of the Woopy in the EAA photo gallery for Aero Friedrichshafen 2010 – Day 2. Light Plane World readers first saw a video of the Woopy ultralight in our March 2010 issue, but we didn’t know what to call it. Later we discovered the inventor said he named it the Woopy because that’s what people say when they fly it.