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TG-7A
Aircraft Model: TG-7A
 
Aircraft Type: Trainer
 
Fly During Show: Yes
 
Display Open To Public: Yes (After They Fly)
 
Web Site: http://tuskegeeairmennationalmuseum.org/
TG-7A
Divider

The Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum's three TG-7A motorgliders represent fully half of the remaining flying examples of this aircraft.

Schweizer made 12 of them. Six went to the US Air Force Academy. In 2003, the academy transferred three of them to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum in Detroit. The museum operates the aircraft with volunteer pilots to teach disadvantaged kids from Detroit how to fly, give Young Eagles rides, and promote the museum's programs.

The Tuskegee Airmen did not fly TG-7As during their active-duty service. The TG-7A is a product of the Air Force Academy's flight training programs from the 1980s, well after World War II and well after most Tuskegee Airmen had retired. But each of the aircraft bears the names of two of the Tuskegee Airmen and several Tuskegee Airmen do fly the aircraft. Although the airshow team members take great pride in flying the TG-7As for audiences and promoting the museum's programs, their proudest duty is serving as copilots and safety pilots to the Tuskegee Airmen when they fly the TG-7As.
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Although the aircraft has an engine and a propeller and shares many characteristics with airplanes, it is in the glider category and a pilot must have a glider rating in order to fly it.

The TG-7A is 27.5 feet long and a little over eight feet tall at the tail. It has a 59.5-foot wingspan. Max gross weight is 1,850 pounds. It seats two side by side.

The wings have a 17.9 aspect ratio. The aircraft has a glide ratio of 19:1 and a minimum-sink speed of 3.16 feet/sec. It has a Lycoming O-235-L2C engine that develops 112 hp at 2,600 rpm at sea level and a 72-inch fixed prop.

The aircraft is essentially a Piper Tomahawk firewall-forward. The wings are adapted from the Schweizer SGS 1-36 Sprite, including extensions to bring it from the Sprite's 46.2 feet to 59.5 feet, and leading edge cuffs to improve stall characteristics. The tail is adapted from the Schweizer SGS 2-32.

The single fuel tank and associated system holds 14.2 gallons of usable fuel. With proper leaning, at 2,500 pressure altitude, the aircraft will do between 97 mph and 103 mph at 65% power (that's about 2,300 rpm) and burn between five and six gallons per hour of 100LL avgas.

Controls include a single throttle, mix, and carb heat control in the center console and a stick and a speed brake control handle on each side. Unlike other aircraft with side-by-side seating, you solo the TG-7A from the right seat. Air Force training doctrine requires that all aircraft with stick controls be flyable with the right hand on the stick and the left hand on the power (whether throttle or dive brakes). But there's nothing important that you can't reach from the left seat.

The Tuskegee Airmen Flight Demo Team consists entirely of volunteer pilots. The airshow performance is non-aerobatic, but it demonstrates the full range of operational capability of the aircraft. Elements usually include circling and figure-eight maneuvers, a gaggle climb (a circling climb used when more than one glider ascends in the same thermal) that the team calls the "Tuskegee Tornado," and demonstrations of the aircraft's ability to perform a 180-degree turn back to the runway from an altitude of a mere 300 feet (don't try this in an airplane!).

Information and photo courtesy of the Tuskegee Airmen National Museum

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