I can remember firsthand when one of aviation’s true characters — Chuck Slusaczyk, of Chuck’s Glider Supplies or CGS — brought his first Hawk to Sun ‘n Fun. As this article illustrates, that was 40 years ago!
Yes, fellow fun flyers, 2022 is the year aviation celebrates the 40th anniversary of Part 103 and the emergence of the “ultralight vehicle.”
One of the ground-breaking designs that year (1982) was the CGS Hawk. When Chuck introduced this flying machine, he broke some of the rules and went on to sell more than 2,500 of the popular series. What rules did he break?
Before Part 103 came out, FAA initially said such “powered hang gliders” — as people, especially FAA, regarded them then — had to be foot launched. Pilots were not supposed to roll off on wheels. The very earliest of such aircraft didn’t even have wheels. Think of John Moody and his foot-launched 10-horsepower Easy Riser. This beloved pioneer of ultralight flying still demonstrates that method at airshows and it’s a crowd pleaser.
I recall some truly hilarious moments as I watched this or that chief pilot for an ultralight manufacturer trying to demonstrate how he could stagger into the air while supposedly foot launching his aircraft. Hint: more often than not, that pilot dragged some part of the aircraft along the ground while attempting to run a few steps with the engine going full blast to hopefully lift him aloft before he stumbled. It was probably dangerous and only a strong pilot could manage the athletic feat once aircraft grew past literal hang gliders with an engine bolted on somewhere.
Chuck decided to come out with his own Part 103 ultralight… but his would be fully enclosed. Shocking, right? The pilot had no chance to foot launch as he or she could not put their feet on the ground. No one else dared to make a fully enclosed ultralight for fear of running afoul of FAA inspectors.
Fortunately, the foot-launch rule gave way to Part 103 and one reason why ultralights look the way they do today is because of Chuck’s courage in offering a trend-smashing aircraft.
CGS Hawk, the Original
Work is progressing to restore Hawk Prototype #1. Hawk Single & Ultra owner Bob Santom wrote, “Our renovation of Hawk #1 will not be complete for the Sun ‘n Fun 2022 show, but it should be 100% by Oshkosh.” Woo, hoo! EAA is working on plans to make a celebration of Part 103’s 40th anniversary and Hawk #1 showing at the big summer show will be highly appropriate.
You can come see the work-in-process in a couple weeks at Sun ‘n Fun 2022. Bob announced, “We plan to have the fuselage and some components on display at our vendor’s site during the show.” How did Bob and son LB happen to obtain Hawk #1?
As old enough readers may recall, Hawk #1 won Best New Aircraft Design at Sun ‘n Fun 1982. The design went on to win many other awards at subsequent airshows and competitions. The storied aircraft last flew down Paradise City’s grass runway in April of 2006, just before Chuck donated it to the Sun ‘n Fun museum at Lakeland Linder Airfield.
A few years later, “Tim Williamson and his wife Laura were at Sun ‘n Fun, and visited the museum to see Hawk #1,” Bob related. “To Tim and Laura’s dismay, Hawk #1 was not on display. After questioning one of the museum’s staff members, Tim and Laura were told that Hawk #1 was in storage, which happened to be outside behind the museum building.”
A longtime friend of the Slusarczyk family, Tim was bound and determined to save Hawk #1 from disintegrating in the Florida sun. “As I understand it,” Bob said, “Tim negotiated with the Museum staff to acquire Hawk #1, so long as it was never flown again, and Tim’s intention was to move the plane to his personal hangar in Florida, with plans for a future renovation.”
Bob continued, “After the acquisition, Tim and Laura moved to Tennessee and took Hawk #1 with them, storing it in Tim’s rented hangar, again with the intention of renovating her someday.
“Unfortunately, and tragically, Tim was killed in a light aircraft crash on September 10, 2020, in Sweetwater, Tennessee. Laura was not able to keep the hangar and moved Hawk #1 to a barn at her home.
“Since Tim and Laura were longtime Hawk fans,” Bob remembered, “our paths crossed after we acquired the single seat and ultralight manufacturing rights. Conversations ensued about how most everyone believed that Hawk #1 was a very important and historical airplane, worthy of preservation. As [one of] the first true three-axis ultralight-type flying machines that literally and positively changed our industry for many years to come, restoring #1 is a tribute to Chuck as well as all of the Hawk faithful.”
“Via mutual Hawk enthusiasts and after spending time with Laura, we bought Hawk #1 and transported her back to our shop in Port St. Lucie, Florida,” explained Bob.
Come See #1 for Yourself
While the restoration is not yet complete, bringing Hawk #1 to Sun ‘n Fun this April is fitting as this is the 40th anniversary of when she won best new aircraft design in 1982. Bob credits progress on the Hawk #1 restoration project to “a lot of help from the Hawk Faithful.”
Being authentic means installing the correct original engine used on Hawk #1. Bob and LB report a Cuyuna 430 engine has been refinished, rebuilt, and test run. It looks and sounds great. “Gary Grimm from Weston, Ohio, performed that rebuild for us and wouldn’t take a dime,” Bob stated, “as he felt strongly that bringing Hawk #1 back to life for the 2022 airshows was a great way to pay tribute to CGS Hawk and to Chuck personally.”
An original 60-27 wooden Culver Prop was sent out to Alaina Lewis from Valley Engineering in Rolla Missouri (also the company behind the since-discontinued Backyard Flyer). She refinished that original prop for the project, again with then understanding that the prop will not be used in flight. Alaina did a wonderful job; it is beautiful.
The instrument panel was removed and refinished, as were all of the original instruments, even keeping the same mismatched screw types in their respective locations. We have even replicated the sign sitting on the seat while parked at Sun ‘n Fun 2006, as well as the decals & tail numbers.
“When my son, LB, and I were stripping down the painted fuselage,” Bob recalled, “we discovered a weight and balance method used by Chuck and team. The horizontal tail post of the rudder was filled, from bottom to top, with buck-shot, presumably for additional tail weight. While it was not possible to capture all of the buckshot as they rolled all over the shop floor, we did save a bunch of them to bring to the show in a plastic bag for all to see.”
“We talked several times with longtime sailmaker Dick Cheney about replicating Hawk#1’s Dacron wing coverings. Dick remembered that Chuck’s sister made the very first set and we are keeping our fingers crossed that his patterns will be a close fit,” admitted Bob. They have the replacement sails, but have not yet installed them while other work progresses.
Hawk Single & Ultra (the business) plans a gathering/celebration for the Hawk Faithful in honor of their 40th year anniversary at Sun ‘n Fun. While that is an invitation event, Bob and LB invite attendees to stop by our vendor site (LP-44 in Paradise City) to check out this noteworthy element of ultralight history.
“My personal toast to Chuck has been stated many times before,” Bob emphasized. “Thank you, Chuck, for a wonderful airplane, and the opportunity to be the temporary caretaker of this wonderful flying machine, until it’s time for someone else to carry the company flag for future generations to come.”
Sun ‘n Fun 2022 should have many aircraft to grab your attention but you should surely make your way to see Part 103 history in aluminum and Dacron. C’mon down to sunny, warm Florida. We’re only a couple weeks away!
Gotta Have Two Seats? — Pilots seeking a two-seat Hawk should note that those models are available brand new but from a different business. Bob Santom and his son LB only do the single-place models under the name Hawk Single & Ultra — while CGS Aviation builds all the two-place models including the Special LSA version. Both are active businesses.