The Marske Monarch continues to offer economical soaring.
Ultralight sailplanes. Are they a new category of aviation, a segment of ultralight aircraft or just little sailplanes? Though ultralights seem to be some of the newer aircraft in general aviation, their true lineage is based on soaring machines.
For example, the first and still most successful ultralights, the Quicksilver series, came from a hang glider design to which a small engine was added back in the 1970s. Trikes, which have continued to grow in worldwide popularity, are based on delta-wing hang gliders to which power and landing gear were added. Therefore, though the term may be relatively new (going back a decade or so), the aircraft has a longer heritage. One shining example of this is Jim Marske’s Monarch.
New Model, Old Design
Marske has been building the Monarch for 20 years and has added his higher performance model, the Pioneer, to his list of designs spanning 40 years. The most recent model with the Marske name (until the new Monarch) was the Genesis. This sleek sailplane is no ultralight, but it may join the ranks of the most efficient aircraft on the planet, able to compete with gliders of tremendous span that can reach 50:1 glide ratios.
Marske has had his hand in all manner of soaring machines. Though Genesis was a group effort, the look of the finished aircraft shows the familiar Marske trademark. In all of his designs, the tail is mainly a vertical area construction and it flies right aft of the “flying wing.” This lightens the machines, makes them less costly to build, and enhances their performance by lowering drag.
Even with his rich history of sailplane design work, it is obvious that Marske continues to dote on the Monarch like a father would dote on a favorite son. These days, he is ably helped by Mat Redsell, a commercial-licensed sailplane pilot with an instructor rating and hang glider experience. Though he’s a recent Monarch convert, Redsell has become a strong enthusiast of the pleasant, simple and low-cost soaring the Monarch offers.
Describing the Monarch
The Monarch is a tailless sailplane with swept-forward wings that taper toward the tip. It features a conventional three-axis control system despite its unorthodox empennage. The fuselage and wing primary structure is molded from fiberglass and epoxy resin. Fittings are steel, and control linkages are aluminum pushrods with ball-bearing ends.
The prior F model Monarch weighs about 200 pounds and features a significant percentage of wood construction. Plans ($170) remain available. “The Model G Monarch eliminates all of the wood spars in the F model,” Marske says, “and it has a slightly higher aspect ratio [and uses] carbon rods in the main wing spar.”
The company says the F model is still current, but kits are no longer being built. It uses wood for the rear spar, elevator spar, aileron spar, fin spar and rudder spar. “The older F model is the best route for builders who want to just build from the plans or enjoy woodworking,” Marske says. The company still supplies wood components to help scratch builders.
The new G model will weigh 180 pounds, and Marske Flying Wings says a Kevlar version should squeak under FAR Part 103’s 155-pound weight limit for an unpowered ultralight aircraft. A ballistic emergency parachute may be added without weight penalty.
Normally auto-towed for great economy, the Monarch can also be aero-towed, says Redsell, as long as one tows at speeds of less than 50 mph. This may be tough for many sailplane tugs, but hang glider tugs can handle the job easily.
“Monarch loves to fly and has a very low sink rate of 135 fpm,” Redsell says. For comparison, the best hang gliders sink at about 175 fpm, and sailplanes often perform at less than 100 fpm, which puts the Monarch right in the middle. However, its speeds-only a few miles an hour above hang gliders- allow working of very small thermals. “I can usually get away at 500 feet and soar quite easily in light lift,” Redsell says. These are good conditions for new soaring enthusiasts who can live without the turbulence associated with big lift.t.
Glide is stated at 22:1 at 36 mph. While this is not a big figure compared to the most elegant sailplanes, Redsell says, “The distance between usable thermals in the Monarch is usually rather small so the L/D is not a great factor.”
The company says you only need access to an airport, grass field or road of 3000 feet for auto-towing. After a roll of about 60 feet in a 5-mph headwind, you should still get to 900 feet AGL, which Redsell emphasized is an easy altitude to get away for a soaring flight. Plan on about 500 feet to get the craft down, which leaves many small fields open to Monarch operations.
Ready to Start?
My experience with the 1995 SuperFloater, a newly updated version of a primary glider, piqued my interest in this type of flying. Aviators used to three-axis controls and desiring normal sit-down flying posture may be drawn to the ease, convenience and low-cost soaring a Monarch G model can provide.
To get some idea of the product, those with an Internet connection can access a series of photos and descriptions on the company’s web site. You can go view-by-view through the production process and learn a great deal before buying.
“A typical Monarch costs about $12,000 if you purchase a complete kit,” Redsell says. Those who are on tighter budgets can start with the plans and progress through a series of small kits.
Light and open enough to smell and feel the air lifting you, the Marske Flying Wings Monarch Model G may satisfy anyone with an interest in soaring.
|Empty weight||180 lb1|
|Gross weight||420 lb|
|Wing area||163 sq. ft.|
|Canopy Span||42.6 ft|
|Wing loading||1.8 – 2.6 lb/sq. ft|
|Pilot Weight Range||120-220 lb|
|Notes:||1For the new G model. A Kevlar version will weigh less than 155 pounds meeting FAR Part 103 for unpowered ultralights. Wing loading will then be less than 2 lb/sq. ft. Older Monarchs (pre G model) weighed about 200 pounds.|
|Cruise speed||25-70 mph|
|Never exceed speed||70 mph|
|Takeoff distance at gross||60 ft|
|Landing distance at gross||500 ft|
|Min Sink Rate||138 fpm @ 30 mph|
|Glide Ratio||25-70 mph|
Eric Michener says
Marske Monarchs are available (as Jim says) thru Matt Kollman in Orient, OH
Neale C. Thompson says
Jim, I was recommending the Monarch for soaring the hills along the Mississippi River, in Minnesota. Possibly using a wench tow to loft. We can build the wench, if you have any plans. Are you still building the Monarch ultralite sailplane? It would seem to be the rite combination for local soaring. Are there any used Monarch’s around, Jim. I am so glad to see that you are still turning out such fine products.
Dan Johnson says
Hi Neale: I’m not sure Jim Marske reads these comments so I can’t say if he saw your questions. Regretfully, I do not have a fresh contact for him and the article is a bit dated now. However, I agree with your interest in it.
Jim Marske says
Sorry for the 9 month delay in answering your request as I just discovered it. Yes, we still have Monarchs available either in kit form or completed form. Contact Matt Kollman for details. I must admit that the Monarch has been the most enjoyable aircraft I have ever flown. I flew my personal Monarch for 30 years and never got tired of it. It stays up on almost nothing due to its low sink rate. If there are thermals you can expect to climb out from a 900 ft auto tow on almost every flight. Because it is highly stall and spin resistant and can make tight circles I have climbed out many time from under 300 ft. If you want drawings for the Monarch I still sell them. email@example.com.
Dan Johnson says
Hi Jim: Thanks for the response. Our comment section is relatively new as we celebrate our first year as a refreshed website that now allows reader give-and-take. Monarch is a wonderful performer and I’m pleased you still support it in this way.
Burt Gallacher says
Hello Dan, Am waiting the sale of my aircraft, and wish to get involved with the Monarch,. I purchased plans about 20 years back but never followed through. I’m ready now after 40 years of noisey flying. Am interested in the G model Kit. Would like info and cost of shipping to south eastern Ontario canada. I have a private strip north of Toronto by150 miles in the high country.( CMB8 in flight sup.) Combermere. Hope to hear frim you, at your leasue….Thanks…Wm. B. Gallacher
Dan Johnson says
Hi Burt: I share your interest in Monarch but that information is so out-dated that I have no idea what the current availability might be. I have heard nothing about Monarch for many years …with regrets. If you know differently, have the supplier contact this website.