Miller Tern

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Role Glider
National origin United States
Designer William Terrance Miller
First flight 1965
Status Plans no longer available
Number built at least 36

The Miller Tern is an American single-seat, high wing glider that was designed by William Terrance Miller and offered as plans for amateur construction.[1][2]

Design and development[edit]

Named for the bird, the Tern was the product of Miller's desire to design a sailplane specifically for homebuilding, providing ease of construction and good performance for its day. The first Tern was completed in 1965 and at least 36 more were completed in the USA, Canada and other countries. Plans are no longer available.[1][2]

The Tern is constructed from a combination of wood and fiberglass. It has a fixed monowheel landing gear, dive brakes and an optional tail-mounted drag chute. The cantilever wing uses a Wortmann 61 series airfoil. The basic Tern has a 51 ft (15.5 m) wingspan that gives a glide ratio of 34:1 at 58 mph (93 km/h), while the longer span Tern II, with its 55 ft (16.8 m) wingspan, has a glide ratio several points higher.[1][2]

Operational history[edit]

In March 2011 there were 14 Terns on the Federal Aviation Administration register, including 4 Tern IIs and one Tern 17M. All Terns are registered in the USA as Experimental - Amateur-built[3]

In March 2011 there were two Terns registered with Transport Canada, both amateur-builts.[4]


Initial version with a 51 ft (15.5 m) wingspan and a glide ratio of 34:1 at 58 mph (93 km/h)[1][2]
Tern II
Improved version with a 55 ft (16.8 m) wingspan, retractable landing gear, trailing edge airbrakes, and a reported 40:1 glide ratio. Gross weight of 852 lbs. Modifications designed and built by John and William Ree, who also collaborated with Miller on the Cherokee RM. First flown in 1968. Destroyed in unrecoverable spin in 1970.[1][2][5][6]
Tern 17M
Version with a 17 m (56 ft) wingspan, one built[7]

Aircraft on display[edit]

Specifications (Tern)[edit]

Data from Sailplane Directory and Soaring[1][2]

General characteristics

  • Crew: one
  • Wingspan: 51 ft (16 m)
  • Wing area: 130 sq ft (12 m2)
  • Airfoil: Wortmann 61 series
  • Empty weight: 475 lb (215 kg)
  • Gross weight: 700 lb (318 kg)


  • Maximum glide ratio: 34:1 at 58 mph (93 km/h)
  • Rate of sink: 126 ft/min (0.64 m/s) at 47 mph (76 km/h)
  • Wing loading: 5.4 lb/sq ft (26 kg/m2)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Activate Media (2006). "Tern Miller". Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Said, Bob: 1983 Sailplane Directory, Soaring Magazine, page 15. Soaring Society of America, November 1983. USPS 499-920
  3. ^ Federal Aviation Administration (March 2011). "Make / Model Inquiry Results". Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  4. ^ Transport Canada (March 2011). "Canadian Civil Aircraft Register". Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  5. ^ Ree, John (December 1970). "The Screw of a Tern". Soaring. 34 (12): 18–19. 
  6. ^ "Letters to the Editor". Soaring. 33 (3): 7. March 1969. 
  7. ^ Federal Aviation Administration (March 2011). "Make / Model Inquiry Results". Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  8. ^ National Soaring Museum (2011). "Sailplanes in Our Collection". Retrieved 26 February 2011. 

External links[edit]