Thursday, 18 September 2008

Yves Gardan 1925-2009

Yves Gardan, born in 1925, was with the Military Academy of Autun from 1945 - 1947 and after having passed out began his aeronautical career as an engineer responsible for checking the calculations for aircraft design. It took only a year for him to show his worth to Société Industrielle For Aeronautics (SIPA) and to then conceive the Sipa 90, whose first flight took place on June 15 1947 in Villacoublay, piloted by Roger Launay. This aircraft won a contest organised by the Air Ministry in 1946 for a simple two-seater of 75 hp. 130 specimens of the SIPA 90 were delivered. An engineer of many bright ideas who worked enthusiastically he had fixed ideas of his own but was not given a free hand to create. He therefore left SIPA to find his independence.

Yves Gardan decided to set up on his own and with a friend Max Laporté created the "Construction Aeronautical of Béarn" (CAB). It produced 30 specimens of the "Minicab" a cutdown version of the earlier SIPA 90 and on 1st February 1949 had its maiden flight piloted by Max . In addition to the 30 factory made examples, there were more than 130 Minicabs made by amateurs. Gaining a high reputation very quickly and still today, the two-seater beat several world records for speed and distance. In 1952, the Minicab achieved a flight of 1080 Nm with one 65hp engine and an average of 99 kts, an enormous performance achievement at that time.

A neighbouring aviation company Turboméca, wanted to install a turbojet on one of his aircraft and this interested Yves Gardan. After studying the concept of a two-seater equipped with a jet turbine developing 160 kg of thrust that the project for the 200 Minijet was born. The French Army were very interested in this and asked him to turn over all development to SIPA and lead the team. So it was thatYves Gardan returned to SIPA with a clean sheet of paper to assemble an autonomous engineering and design department. This saw the S.200 "Minijet", the smallest two-seater in the world, produced to a very high specification powered by the Turbomeca turbine engines. Gardan very quickly realised, the two-seater Mini Jet showed surprising qualities in stunt-flying. Another two-seater version the SIPA 300 would follow but it remained a prototype.

On his return to CAB from SIPA, Yves continued to develop his projects relating to the development of civil light planes. Persuaded that this market would develop towards the general public, he developed a version of a design derived from the Minicab GY20 - called the Supercab GY30. Equipped with a Continental 90hp, and retractable undercarriage, it was possible to reach a cruising speed of 142 kts. Definitely much in demand, Yves turned the design over to SIPA where it developed the SIPA 1000 ladybird. Although an economic two-seater out of metal tube and cloth - due to an economic downturn the manufacture was to reach an abrupt end after 3 were made. It was the same for the twin-engine Sipa 1100 which also remained in a prototype state.

After this Yves Gardan went to work in Pau-Idron and developed a four-seater metal Aircraft with retractable undercarriage and combined flaps. With 3 engine types available, Lycoming 150, 160 or 180hp, a version with fixed pitch Sensenich Propeller, or with variable pitch Hartzell propeller and with full IFR equipment an option, the manufacturer did not know which of the GY 80 HORIZON's would be the most successful.

Piloted by Pierre Simon, the F-WJDU prototype manufactured on the aerodrome of Courbevoie left the ground for the first time on July 21, 1960 and quickly aroused a keen interest of the most significant French Aeronautical manufacturers. This prototype still flies and is now in Castellet. SUD AVIATION won the licence for production on July 10th 1962 and in the months which followed 260 examples left the factory. SUD AVIATION will become Aerospatiale, and quickly the internal competition with the Socata Rally prevents the Horizon from being produced en-mass for the market.

Because of the multiplicity of different versions of the Rallye and also the lack of will from SOCATA to evolve the GY80, Yves GARDAN decided to once again "fly the coup" and do more design work. Certified in 1971, the GY100 Bagheera was the first evolution of the Horizon. Equipped with fixed gear at a cheaper cost, the design arrived on the market at the moment of the oil crisis, and Yves Gardan gave up continuing any manufacture and it is left to SIPA under subcontract to make a few examples.

Yves Gardans wide knowledge and experience of aeronautics enabled him to conceive ideas for SEDAM and BERTIN the whole of the cockpit, the propeller as well as the engine cowlings of a hovercraft of 250 tons. Yves Gardan was brought in to study and manufacture tools for the Airbus, Mirage III and Mirage2000. This activity continues even now and his conception of tooling has widened to the automotive industry. In his head about thirty projects have never been further than the drawing board. His ideas and experiments in the field of hovercraft, could not compete with the rigour of aeronautical certifications. The publication of regulations for Ultra Lights in 1982 gives hope to him again for a two-seater ULM but will probably never be marketed, for lack of time since his activities of a subcontractor quickly become the single and principal activity of his workshop.