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Classic Aero-TV: Eyeing the Hawk

From 2023 (YouTube Version): The Best of the Eighties in the Early Twenties

It can be argued with confidence that the father of the Ultralight aircraft from which the Light-Sport Aircraft sector arose was Chuck Slusarczyk (slew-ZAR-chick), who created the Hawk—an inspired syncretism of the hang-glider, the J3 Cub, and Daedalus’s better ideas. The CGS abbreviation by which the Hawk moniker is most-often prefixed derives of Mr. Slusarczyk’s earlier business, Chuck’s Glider Supplies, which worked in the medium of hang-gliders.

In the long, sublime moment between Disco’s death and the release of Rush’s epic 1981 Moving Pictures album, Slusarczyk—a clever engineer, hang-glider wizard, and savvy businessman—took it upon himself to survey attendees of 1980’s Sun 'n Fun and AirVenture events for purpose of determining what, precisely, ultralight enthusiasts of the time sought in a new ultralight aircraft design.

Slusarczyk’s survey revealed pilots were looking for a machine with a closed cockpit, removable doors, three-axis controls, flaps not flaperons, struts not cable-bracing, the choice of either tricycle or conventional undercarriages, and an aft-mounted engine turning a pusher-propeller.

Slusarczyk returned to his workshop and got to work. One year later, he emerged therefrom with the first iteration of the Hawk, a strut-braced Ultralight aircraft constructed from aluminum tubing and covered with either pre-sewn Dacron envelopes or doped aircraft fabric. The Hawk—in accordance with Slusarczyk’s survey results—featured wing flaps, a pusher-propeller, three-axis controls, and was offered in both tricycle and conventional undercarriage configurations.

Slusarczyk unveiled his creation to the public at 1982’s Sun N Fun, where the Hawk prototype earned the distinction of being named the year’s best new design.

Emboldened, Slusarczyk next presented the contraption at the EAA’s annual Convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where the Hawk was named Outstanding New Design and Reserve Grand Champion.

At Oshkosh 1983, the Hawk won the Dupont Kevlar Air Recreational Vehicle Design Competition, beating out more than 126 competing designs.

Accolades brought buyers, buyers brought capital, and capital brought the luxury of innovation. The ensuing years saw extensive refinements to Slusarczyk’s original Hawk design and occasioned the releases of new Hawk models the likes of the Hawk Arrow, the Hawk Plus, the Hawk Sport, and the Hawk Ultra.

In 1985, Slusarczyk introduced the first two-seat iteration of the Hawk, the Hawk Classic II.

In a world of F-22 Raptors and near-daily space launches, the Hawk is a modest machine. Its 310-pound empty weight, five-gallon fuel capacity, and 65-knot top-speed are likely to earn nods from neither the Pentagon nor the U.S. National Aeronautic Association’s (NAA) Collier Trophy board. Nevertheless, the Hawk is a hoot to fly and among the few aircraft that can be towed with a bicycle and depart an average back-yard. What’s more, it’s among the few still-viable denizens of this Earth to have emerged unscathed from a 1980s childhood.

Aero-TV is a production of the Internationally syndicated Aero-News Network. Seen worldwide by hundreds of thousands of aviators and aviation adherents, ANN's Aero-TV has produced over 5000 aviation and feature programs, including nearly 2000 episodes of our daily aviation news program, AIRBORNE UNLIMITED, currently hosted by Holland Lee. Now in its third decade of operation, parent company Aero-News Network, has the most aggressive and intensive editorial profile of any aviation news organization and has published nearly a half-million news and feature stories since its inception -- having pioneered the online 24/7 aviation new-media model that so many have emulated.

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