Clever Stuff


See that? No, not the polished tie-down ring (how many milli-knots do you think that gets him?), I’m talking about the pitot tube on Race 76, built and flown by Jason Rovey. Looks like a compact pitot tube, probably homemade… right? And yes, it is a homemade pitot tube—but it is more than that. In the interest of drag reduction, it is also Rovey’s comm antenna!

The upper part of the tube contains coils which create the antenna, and trimming the length of the pitot tube itself tunes the SWR to perfection. The trailing edge of the streamlined mast? That’s a popsicle stick hiding under the composite. With traditional comm antennas costing a measurable amount of drag at race speeds, getting rid of one can gain you a tiny – but measurable amount of speed. And the way you find knots (or mph if you’re a racer “because the numbers are bigger!”) is a fraction here and a fraction there.

That there is a prime example of how racing enhances the breed – now how many folks are going to go out and build one themselves to gain that extra mile or two of absolute range?

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.



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