Notes on Flying the Monett Monerai Sailplane
>Subject: Advice needed re: Monett Monerai.
>I'm concidering buying a Monerai. Have you piloted in one of these?
>Is there a better choice for the money? It's a flaps only craft,
>12.0 meters, V-tail and claimed L/D of 30:1. What are my other choices
>in this price range? Or for three times the cost would a Standard Cirrus
>Thanks for taking the time if you do respond.
Around ten years ago, after several Monerai crashes and incidents at Sugarbush (yes, several), the board of directors decided to ban Monerais from the airport. I protested, feeling that based on the flight review by George Moffat in Soaring and what I had seen of some ships, that the issue was pilot training and not the aircraft. They said they would rescind the ban if I demonstrated that it was indeed a safe aircraft, and a Monerai owner volunteered his ship for me to fly.
The gentleman who owned the plane was a bit heavy (well, in fact, quite heavy), and I'm rather thin (well, maybe scrawny). The Monerai is light and consequently the CG is quite sensitive to pilot weight, and ballasting is important. The Monerai is not generally equipped with a ballast mounting post in the nose, but it has a sling seat that wraps around the pilot. I decided to place about twenty pounds of lead block in my pockets after verifying that the blocks would be very firmly secured when I strapped in, and that the resulting CG was acceptable. Then I took it for a flight in back of an L-19 tug at Sugarbush.
The glider was very sensitive and a bit difficult to control on initial roll. It is widely recommended that this glider be flown with an extra long tow rope as a consequence, and I would certainly concur (at least for initial flights, until familiar with the glider). The glider settled down once at flying speed, and tow was uneventful. The in flight handling of the glider was just fine, but the side-stick was uncomfortable - most owners make some kind of cushion to support the right arm, a center stick would be an improvement and some have been built with center stick. Performance seemed as advertised, with perhaps a higher than expected sink rate in turns with the short square wings. I flew for around an hour and found it very pleasant. Landing characteristics were excellent HOWEVER: This is a flapped glider, so energy management and the optimal landing pattern is VERY DIFFERENT than conventional (spoiler-equipped) gliders. If the glider is flown appropriately this is a safety advantage in that it can land slowly in a small space. If the glider is flown using conventional (flat) patterns this is a big safety hazard ! I felt that this is a fine glider if properly built and flown.
Some of these gliders have had problems with improper bonding of the wing skins to the ribs, like HP-18s and RS-15s. Others are just fine. As with any homebuilt, individual examples can range from jewels (I've seen a number of fantastic Monerais) to things best placed on the scrap heap.
It seems that the entire crew at Sugarbush was convinced of my impending demise, and when I radioed in that I would be landing everybody at the airport lined up along the runway to observe the horrible crash first-hand. I arrived and made a perfect landing in front of the crowd, rolled off, opened the canopy, and climbed out in front of the very surprised and totally silent group (unusual for a group of glider pilots !). Suddenly the entire crowd burst into applause, at which point my pants fell down (I still had the 20 lbs of lead in my pockets and I wasn't wearing a belt). So, I found myself with no pants in front of an array of clapping glider pilots... Surely one of the silliest moments in my soaring career.
Anyway, find a good Monerai, learn how you need to fly safe patterns before you fly it, launch with a long rope, and I'm sure you'll feel that the plane is an excellent value for the money !
Best of luck, Regards, Dave Nadler ("YO", LS-6b and RHJ-8).
Dave's Soaring publications, including blogs from past contests