Bowlus/Nelson BB-1 “Dragonfly”

The Dragonfly is an American, two seat, strut-braced, high wing, motorized glider developed from the Bowlus BA-100 Baby Albatross glider which was also designed by William Hawley Bowlus. If you look at the two aircraft you will see the similarities.

The obvious external difference between the two is the addition of the pusher engine and the two outboard vertical fins on the tail of the Dragonfly. In addition, the cockpit was significantly widened and side-by-side seating along with two sets of flight controls were added. A retractable tricycle landing gear and a steerable nose wheel operated through the rudder pedals and a hinged canopy completed the major changes to the earlier Baby Albatross to make the Dragonfly.

Gliding and soaring gained popularity in the United States from the early 1930’s through the postwar years, but the difficulties of getting the glider airborne was a perceived problem. The solution was to motorize the glider and allow the pilot to self-launch.

The general specifications for the Dragonfly are as follows:

Two place, side by side cockpit

Wingspan 47 feet 4 inches Wing Area 169 square feet Aspect ratio of 13.25

Empty Weight 580 pounds

Gross Weight 940 pounds

Fuel Capacity 3 gallons

Nelson H-44 four cylinder, two stroke, 25 HP engine

Maximum glide ration 18:1

Rate of Climb 235 FPM using the engine at 48 mph

Take-off distance 900 feet at sea level using the engine

A total of seven Dragonfly aircraft were sold.