Aircraft, full-size, ultralight, Resurgam, wood / metal / fabric, designed by Gordon Bedson, Bundarra, New South Wales, Australia, 1979, made by Hector Roe, Australia, c. 1980
Although the first ultralight/microlight/minimum aircraft is considered to be an Easy Riser hang glider on to which American, John Moody, bolted a go-kart engine, the ultralight movement is regarded as Australian with the genesis of Ron Wheeler's Skycraft Scout and its series production in the southern Sydney suburb of Carlton. Ron Wheeler and Cec Anderson concerned to legitimise their new product, lobbied the Australian Government, leading to the Department of Transport promulgating, in 1976, an Air Navigation Order (95.10) which allowed these minimum aircraft to fly legally. This legislation was a world first. Subsequently other Australians followed suit and designed and built their own aircraft to comply with ANO 95.10. These were usually little more than aluminium tubes supporting a wing, empennage, engine and pilot but several designers, pre-1980, wanted to develop aircraft with greater sophistication while still remaining within the limitations of the all-up weight and wing loading imposed by the ANO. The aircraft were the Winton Grasshopper, the Betteridge Hornet and the Bedson Resurgam. While the Hornet and Grasshopper relied on modern composite materials to reduce weight the Resurgam used conventional wood and fabric aircraft manufacturing techniques to allow the amateur builder to construct the aircraft completely from supplied plans without the necessity of purchasing expensive fibreglass mouldings. The Resurgam was regarded as the best microlight of 1981 by the Sports Aircraft Association of Australia and the Minimum Aircraft Flyers' Association awarded it the best air frame in 1982. The Resurgam also proved its ability in 1982 when it joined 65 other microlights, as the only Australian representative, on a flight from Biggin Hill in England to Paris across the English Channel. Despite some unfavourable weather conditions the Resurgam completed the flight and won the speed event.
The interest in the more sophisticated aircraft by a section of the ultralight flying community and the perception of their greater safety led the Department of Aviation to consider a heavier class of ultralight with extended freedom of movement. Some people had built ultralight aircraft that were too heavy for the ANO 95.10 regulation but flew them illegally. It was a concern of the Australian Ultralight Federation, the body established to oversee the operation of ultralight aviation, that these aircraft should come under legislative cover without restricting their freedom of sensible operation and also to allow two place ultralight aircraft for supervised pilot training; impossible under ANO 95.10. The negotiations between the Federation and the Department highlighted the differences in attitude between the parties. While the Department was perceived as limiting the activities of the ultralight aircraft the Federation pushed for sensible freedom of operation of the aircraft given the limitations of their capabilities. As a result ANO 95.10 was changed to allow a heavier weight of aircraft and ANO 95.25 was promulgated which allowed for two-place ultralights but with a higher standard of airworthiness. This was seen as the demise of the "cheap and simple minimum aircraft" and the evolution into the light sports aircraft. ANO 95.25 was not seen by the flyers as a popular legislation nor was its successor ANO 101.55 which imposed even greater costs on the flyers who had originally sought the freedom of the air without the onerous cost and legislative structures that General Aviation was seen to be burdened with. However, the Resurgam appears to have survived the death of its creator, Gordon Bedson and the legislative hurdles and seems to continue to exist as a viable current design albeit in far fewer numbers than in its heyday, the late 1970s to mid 1980s.
British aeronautical and automotive engineer Gordon Bedson emigrated to Australia, at the request of Harold Lightburn, washing machine manufacturer, to assist with the development of a light car for the Asian market. According to Bedson, the finished product, the Zeta, owed nothing to him and when another Lightburn-associated sports car project failed to materialise, Bedson left to work first for the Australian-British Trade Association and then as a restaurateur on the Gold Coast and then in Armidale, NSW. When the restaurant building he leased was sold Bedson moved to a property in Bundarra, NSW to return to an occupation he had held prior to World War II; making wooden aircraft propellers. Perceiving a future in lightweight sports flying he developed a "...concept of camping-seminars to teach a new generation of young light-weight sports pilots". This concept was based on the pre-World War II German gliding movement with its glider training camps and moved to England with Robert Kronfeldt. Bedson and Kronfeldt developed the Kronfeldt Ground Trainer which was used as a basic ground trainer for military pilots. Bedson wanted to use the same idea of ab initio use of a ground trainer before advancing to his newly designed Resurgam ultralight aircraft. Although the Resurgam became a reality the ground trainer did not.
The prototype Resurgam was under construction in May 1979, less than three years after the promulgation of Air Navigation Order 95.10 which allowed the legal flight of ultralight aircraft having a maximum all-up weight of 400 lbs (180 kg) with a wing loading not exceeding 4 lbs per sq. ft. (19.5 kg/sq m). Resurgam was constructed of timber and fabric in the style of light aircraft of the 1930s. The timber was aircraft grade spruce and the fabric covering was Dacron. The engine was either the 24 hp (17.9 kW) twin cylinder horizontally opposed "Skylark" engine or the 24 hp (17.9 kW) 3 cylinder radial Konig engine. The aft fuselage was constructed of aluminium tubing. Bedson claimed the empty weight as 99 kg and with a wing area of 10.68 sq m the wing loading, based on the 180 kg all-up weight, was 16.8 kg/sq m. Resurgam purchasers had the option of building from the plans or by purchasing ready-made fibreglass components, wing spars, ribs and undercarriage. A Resurgam Builders and Owners Association had been formed, a bi-monthly report discussing aspects of flying and building, was sent to members. By 1983 the tubular cage which formed the rear fuselage had given way to a single large diameter tube supporting the empennage. This modification formed the Resurgam Mk II. The Resurgams became well known with a number of plan sets sold. Three Resurgams were registered in New Zealand, one crashing and two remaining on the register, ZK-FIJ and ZK-JOO. In advertising in Australian Airsport magazine in the May/June 1983 issue Bedson included an endorsement from famous Australian racing driver, Jack Brabham. The endorsement stated that Resurgam was "the best Micro-light I have flown in any country after a three years search".
While working on the production of the Resurgams Bedson was acting as design consultant for Don and Peter Adams of Seabird Ultralight aircraft of Pt Vernon, Queensland with the construction of their Rouseabout aircraft. An image of the prototype appeared in the Aircraft magazine, April 1984 issue, "Ultralight Directory". The Rouseabout is basically a Resurgam Mk II but manufactured using fibreglass and kevlar. By the time the "Ultralight Directory" appeared in the April, 1985 issue of aircraft magazine Gordon Bedson was dead. The Resurgam was still listed as available but production had moved from Bundarra in NSW to Tamborine North in Queensland. With increasing competition from international products and a decline in interest in ultralight aviation in Australia in the mid to late 1980s Resurgam seems to have largely disappeared with only one aircraft registered, 101296, to Resurgam Aviation, on the Australian Ultralight Flyers Association database of 2,168 registered aircraft as at June 30, 2006. Also an advertisement appearing in the Australian Ultralight Flyers Association "Members Market " of May 2005 lists a Resurgam Mk III for sale noting that it is a "brand new (zero time airframe )...totally rebuilt (with reinforcement) as a basis for future 2 seat production".
This Resurgam was one of several built by Mr Hector Roe from 1979 although this example was not finished. It was handed to the nephew of Hector Roe, Mr Peter Roe, who stored the aircraft in the rafters of his automotive workshop on the Central Coast of NSW. In 2006 the aircraft was acquired from Mr Peter Roe by the donor, a Qantas airframe engineer and amateur pilot, with a view to completing the construction of the aircraft for his own use. At some point the donor realised that the project would not be completed and the incomplete aircraft was offered to the Museum.