Who are you?
First name: Koen (pronounced as racoon without ra)
Last name: Van de Kerckhove (euh ...don't even try :) )
Just a regular guy. Been a teacher for many years. Now hoping to be able to make a job of my hobby.
Most of you know we as the guy of the Nest of Dragons website. It is dedicated to weird airplanes. I explain why they were designed that way and why they were better or worse. I started this website about a decade ago and it is rather known in the world of the weird airplane fans.
After a decade of talking about airplanes, i found the possibility to actually MAKE airplanes.
What did you do in aviation?
Once i started building stuff, i started by restoring a HM14/360. That is a homebuilt by the design of Henri Mignet. It is mostly known as a Flying Flea. Although it has a bad reputation, it is a very safe airplane for beginner builders and pilots. Go read the true story about this type of airplane in my other website.
While i was still a teacher i started working with students of 13 to 17 years on the Open Pou glider. It was a design made by me and my befriended engineers. It was a primary glider in Flying Flea configuration. We succeeded in making a 6,5 m (21,3 feet) wing in wood with those kids. Sadly i had to stop that project in school.
I am a student SWIFT hangglider pilot at Avia-Airsports in Beauvechain in Belgium. We are a official Swift school and have the only European, flyable trainer of this modern hangglider. It is a flying wing design. Performance at its best for a hangglider, but ...rather expensive.
Now i hope to create low-budget airplanes in aluminium.
It would be a dream to finish that high performing, composite flying wing design i designed together with a NASA engineer. But i lack the funds to finish the build-up of the moulds. There are videos on youtube of this DragonWing.
Did you design the BirdGlider?
No, the calculations and the plans were made by the engineer team, lead by Predrag Devic (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I am just the guy that said what i wanted and how i wanted it. I set the goals. I just played with 3D's to make nice looks for the glider. I am very creative, but ...i miss the knowledge to do the calculations. I helped the engineers sometimes to find solutions for some problems. Thinking outside the box did help a lot during the design of the BirdGlider.
Predrag and friends, thanks guys for the ability to do this adventure.
I think i recognize BirdGlider from other airplanes. True?
Totally true. I used many other airplanes as inspiration. GOAT of Mike Sandlin for its wings and tail. Superfloater steering stick. The hammock of the SWIFT. Did you know that SWIFT might have got the idea of a hammock from the HM5 of Henri Mignet (anno 1912). So yes, it is a combination of a lot of other airplanes.
I guess my own input is the left stick which replaces the pedals for better control while standing on take off hill. It makes it also possible that wheelchair-users can use this glider too. But i think that larger glider might already have a similar device for wheelchair-users. I never saw it on hanggliders or ultralight gliders before. And i guess i found a good system to mount the wings rather quickly. The way both wings attach to the fuselage is new, i guess.
Most work was the calculation to keep this design having the same weight as the first generation of the SWIFT hangglider. 55 kg. That wonderful work was done by Marko Stamenovic.
Why the knight costume????
I visited Poland with my Polish friend. We visited Malbork. It has the largest, intact, medieval castle in the world. Very, very impressive. During a celebration event of the Battle of Malbork in that castle i had the chance to buy this costume. In a knight shop in the Netherlands i found the missing parts like helmet, sword, shoes, gloves, wallet and so on.
Medieval times was my favourite time area in the history lessons when i was a kid. So i had much fun now visiting old European castles in this costume. The visitors of those castles were always pleased to meet me.
Call me "not normal". No problem to me. My kids call me "prettig gestoord", roughly translated "a healthy crazy person". I admit, i like cosplay.
Now ...what is its link to the BirdGlider? Eh ...nothing. It is just a link to my slogan "Lets go back in time ...to the basics". Back in time ...you get it ? And ...it attracts attention. As a beginning airplane firm i need to have that.
Why so much humour in your website?
If you think i don't take aviation serious, think again. I take it very serious. Humour is just a way of telling things.
As a teacher i found out that if you use humour from time to time, it makes the message stay longer inside the head. It really works. I used it to make students not forget very important parts of their lessons. Especially the dangerous stuff.
Is it weird to see humour used in aviation sites or books? If you say yes, go buy yourself a manual of the very known Northrop flying wing from the 40's. I was not surprised to see cartoons in those books. This art of using humour to catch attention is kind of lost in the current aviation manuals. Sad. A missed chance to prevent accidents.
As i am not bound to a big firm that uses very strict rules about how to write books or websites, i use the technique that i know best to explain something. Humour. ;)
Nest of Dragons. Why this name for your firm?
It is related to something my grandmother used to say. When i was a kid and i let her see books of my favourite airplanes (Flying wings, low aspect ratio's, twins, giants and so on), she always said "those are dragons of airplanes". She didn't like them at all because they were weird.
So when i started making my own website as a adult, i started thinking about a name. To my grandmother it would all have been dragons of airplanes. So ...how would you call a place filled of weird airplanes. A nest of dragons.
I used this name for a decade before starting my firm. I kept the name, because it was already known.
Which bird is in the logo of BirdGlider?
I wanted to use a bird that is small and which is very known all over the world. After some searching i found the Kingfisher. I always liked that bird. We have them in Belgium as well.
The logo drawing got its inspiration from the film poster of "Mockingjay". It developed from rather realistic into this rather basic drawing.