Manta Pterodactyl Fledgling

Jack McCornack, president of Pterodactyl Limited, developed the Fledgling by adding landing gear, an engine, and other improvements to the rigid wing Manta Fledge hang glider. Technological advances in low-cost and lightweight airframes and power plants during the 1960s and 1970s ignited public enthusiasm for a new kind of minimalist aviation. With his Fledgling, McCornack hoped to match this enthusiasm with an ultralight airplane that almost anyone could purchase and fly.

On July 9, 1979, John D. Peterson, Jr., took off in a Fledgling from Long Beach, California. Twenty-nine days later on August 6, Peterson landed at Hilton Head, South Carolina. He had completed one of the earliest transcontinental flights in an ultralight aircraft, covering 5,152 km (3,200 miles) in 193-km (120-mile) hops. Ten days later, Peterson flew to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Dan White, a schoolteacher from Santa Cruz, California, chased Peterson behind the wheel of a borrowed van and a rental car. White carried spare parts for the ultralight and encouragement for the pilot. The flight reads like a 1920s barnstormer's aerial odyssey. "We never slept outside," Peterson said, "someone always took us into their home." A Texas oil man gave Peterson $300 and a group of young Future Farmers of America in Jacksonville, North Carolina, collected $16, enough money to buy gasoline to finish the final leg of the journey. When Peterson landed at Kitty Hawk, he had only $4. The following year, in March 1980, Peterson generously donated this Fledgling to the National Air and Space Museum.

Gift of John D. Peterson, Jr.

Physical Description:
Hang glider modified with seat, engine and landing gear into an ultralight aircraft.

Country of Origin
United States of America

Manufacturer
Pterodactyl Limited

Location
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, VA
Hangar
Boeing Aviation Hangar

Type
CRAFT-Aircraft

Dimensions
Wingspan: 10.1 m (33 ft)
Length: 3.3 m (11 ft)
Height: 3.1 m (10 ft)
Weights: Empty, 68 kg (150 lb)
Gross, 192 kg (425 lb)
Engine: Cuyuna 430D two-stroke, two-cycle air-cooled, 30 horsepower

John McCornack, president of Pterodactyl Limited, developed the Fledgling by adding landing gear, an engine, and other improvements to the rigid wing Manta Fledge hang glider. Technological advances in low-cost and lightweight airframes and power plants during the 1960s and 1970s ignited public enthusiasm for a new kind of minimalist aviation. With his Fledgling, McCornack hoped to match this enthusiasm with an ultralight airplane that almost anyone could purchase and fly.

Pterodactyl salespersons sold most Fledglings as kits. Buyers screwed and bolted aluminum tubing to form the airframe, added wires for extra support, and then covered the wings with colorful Dacron fabric. An engine designed to power snowmobiles propelled the aircraft. Bouyant advertising compressed construction into a short paragraph: "The steps involved in constructing your PTERODACTYL FLEDGLING are airframe assembly, rigging, landing gear assembly, power unit assembly, wing cover installation, and winglet installation. Complete building time is normally between forty and sixty hours." Other homebuilt aircraft kits required thousands of hours of a builder's time and sometimes these epic projects stretched into a decade of effort. "If you invest a couple hours every other evening and a full day once a week," continued the Fledgling ad," you can be ready to fly in a month after receiving your airframe kit. This will give you time for your other interests and fits well with our shipping schedule. No gluing, doping or painting is required, as the wing covering and winglets are pre-built and all tubing is anodized."

A hang glider ancestry made the Fledgling simple and satisfying to assemble and operate. Manta Products Incorporated had sold 500 Fledge 1 and 2 hang gliders by the time McCornack and Pterodactyl introduced the Fledgling in 1979. Flyers could even buy a powered version of Manta's Fledge, equipped with a small, auxiliary engine and vestigial landing (but not takeoff) gear. The engine was too weak to permit powered takeoffs; it could only 'sustain' flight after the Fledge pilot was airborne. A basic, no-frills Fledge weighed about 28.5 kg (63 lb) but the powered version weighed considerably more. The pilot of a powered Fledge had to hoist his entire machine and madly run down a slope to get airborne. For a time, the Federal Aviation Administration exempted any foot-launchable aircraft from the more detailed and restrictive regulations that ruled other powered airplanes. But many customers were first-time pilots with no experience flying hang gliders. They wanted powered airplanes and McCornack simply capitalized on this trend toward more practical, powered ultralight aircraft. To create the Fledgling, he added a 'fuselage' to the Fledge made of aluminum tubes and fitted it with a seat, a tricycle undercarriage with large-diameter wheels, and a motor with enough power for rolling takeoffs.

The transformation from the Fledge hang glider to the powered Fledgling ultralight broke new ground and Pterodactyl had to promote the Fledgling as "NFL," not foot-launchable to distinguish it from the throngs of powered hang gliders.

On July 9, 1979, John D. Peterson, Jr., took off in a Fledgling from Long Beach, California. Twenty-nine days later on August 6, Peterson landed at Hilton Head, South Carolina. He had completed one of the earliest transcontinental flights in an ultralight aircraft, covering 5,152 km (3,200 miles) in 193-km (120-mile) hops. Ten days later, Peterson flew to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Dan White, a schoolteacher from Santa Cruz, California, chased Peterson behind the wheel of a borrowed van and a rental car. White carried spare parts for the ultralight and encouragement for the pilot. The flight reads like a 1920s barnstormer's aerial odyssey. "We never slept outside," Peterson said, "someone always took us into their home." A Texas oil man gave Peterson $300 and a group of young Future Farmers of America in Jacksonville, North Carolina, collected $16, enough money to buy gasoline to finish the final leg of the journey. When Peterson landed at Kitty Hawk, he had only $4. The following year, in March 1980, Peterson generously donated this Fledgling to the National Air and Space Museum.

Jack McCornack, president of Pterodactyl Limited, developed the Fledgling by adding landing gear, an engine, and other improvements to the rigid wing Manta Fledge hang glider. Technological advances in low-cost and lightweight airframes and power plants during the 1960s and 1970s ignited public enthusiasm for a new kind of minimalist aviation. With his Fledgling, McCornack hoped to match this enthusiasm with an ultralight airplane that almost anyone could purchase and fly.

On July 9, 1979, John D. Peterson, Jr., took off in a Fledgling from Long Beach, California. Twenty-nine days later on August 6, Peterson landed at Hilton Head, South Carolina. He had completed one of the earliest transcontinental flights in an ultralight aircraft, covering 5,152 km (3,200 miles) in 193-km (120-mile) hops. Ten days later, Peterson flew to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Dan White, a schoolteacher from Santa Cruz, California, chased Peterson behind the wheel of a borrowed van and a rental car. White carried spare parts for the ultralight and encouragement for the pilot. The flight reads like a 1920s barnstormer's aerial odyssey. "We never slept outside," Peterson said, "someone always took us into their home." A Texas oil man gave Peterson $300 and a group of young Future Farmers of America in Jacksonville, North Carolina, collected $16, enough money to buy gasoline to finish the final leg of the journey. When Peterson landed at Kitty Hawk, he had only $4. The following year, in March 1980, Peterson generously donated this Fledgling to the National Air and Space Museum.

Gift of John D. Peterson, Jr.

Physical Description:
Hang glider modified with seat, engine and landing gear into an ultralight aircraft.

Country of Origin
United States of America

Manufacturer
Pterodactyl Limited

Location
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, VA
Hangar
Boeing Aviation Hangar

Type
CRAFT-Aircraft

Dimensions
Wingspan: 10.1 m (33 ft)
Length: 3.3 m (11 ft)
Height: 3.1 m (10 ft)
Weights: Empty, 68 kg (150 lb)
Gross, 192 kg (425 lb)
Engine: Cuyuna 430D two-stroke, two-cycle air-cooled, 30 horsepower

John McCornack, president of Pterodactyl Limited, developed the Fledgling by adding landing gear, an engine, and other improvements to the rigid wing Manta Fledge hang glider. Technological advances in low-cost and lightweight airframes and power plants during the 1960s and 1970s ignited public enthusiasm for a new kind of minimalist aviation. With his Fledgling, McCornack hoped to match this enthusiasm with an ultralight airplane that almost anyone could purchase and fly.

Pterodactyl salespersons sold most Fledglings as kits. Buyers screwed and bolted aluminum tubing to form the airframe, added wires for extra support, and then covered the wings with colorful Dacron fabric. An engine designed to power snowmobiles propelled the aircraft. Bouyant advertising compressed construction into a short paragraph: "The steps involved in constructing your PTERODACTYL FLEDGLING are airframe assembly, rigging, landing gear assembly, power unit assembly, wing cover installation, and winglet installation. Complete building time is normally between forty and sixty hours." Other homebuilt aircraft kits required thousands of hours of a builder's time and sometimes these epic projects stretched into a decade of effort. "If you invest a couple hours every other evening and a full day once a week," continued the Fledgling ad," you can be ready to fly in a month after receiving your airframe kit. This will give you time for your other interests and fits well with our shipping schedule. No gluing, doping or painting is required, as the wing covering and winglets are pre-built and all tubing is anodized."

A hang glider ancestry made the Fledgling simple and satisfying to assemble and operate. Manta Products Incorporated had sold 500 Fledge 1 and 2 hang gliders by the time McCornack and Pterodactyl introduced the Fledgling in 1979. Flyers could even buy a powered version of Manta's Fledge, equipped with a small, auxiliary engine and vestigial landing (but not takeoff) gear. The engine was too weak to permit powered takeoffs; it could only 'sustain' flight after the Fledge pilot was airborne. A basic, no-frills Fledge weighed about 28.5 kg (63 lb) but the powered version weighed considerably more. The pilot of a powered Fledge had to hoist his entire machine and madly run down a slope to get airborne. For a time, the Federal Aviation Administration exempted any foot-launchable aircraft from the more detailed and restrictive regulations that ruled other powered airplanes. But many customers were first-time pilots with no experience flying hang gliders. They wanted powered airplanes and McCornack simply capitalized on this trend toward more practical, powered ultralight aircraft. To create the Fledgling, he added a 'fuselage' to the Fledge made of aluminum tubes and fitted it with a seat, a tricycle undercarriage with large-diameter wheels, and a motor with enough power for rolling takeoffs.

The transformation from the Fledge hang glider to the powered Fledgling ultralight broke new ground and Pterodactyl had to promote the Fledgling as "NFL," not foot-launchable to distinguish it from the throngs of powered hang gliders.

On July 9, 1979, John D. Peterson, Jr., took off in a Fledgling from Long Beach, California. Twenty-nine days later on August 6, Peterson landed at Hilton Head, South Carolina. He had completed one of the earliest transcontinental flights in an ultralight aircraft, covering 5,152 km (3,200 miles) in 193-km (120-mile) hops. Ten days later, Peterson flew to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Dan White, a schoolteacher from Santa Cruz, California, chased Peterson behind the wheel of a borrowed van and a rental car. White carried spare parts for the ultralight and encouragement for the pilot. The flight reads like a 1920s barnstormer's aerial odyssey. "We never slept outside," Peterson said, "someone always took us into their home." A Texas oil man gave Peterson $300 and a group of young Future Farmers of America in Jacksonville, North Carolina, collected $16, enough money to buy gasoline to finish the final leg of the journey. When Peterson landed at Kitty Hawk, he had only $4. The following year, in March 1980, Peterson generously donated this Fledgling to the National Air and Space Museum.

ID: A19800372000