Richard Glassock is an Australian graduate student and designer working in autonomous aircraft, long-distance sailboats, and a light hybrid power system made from off-the-shelf model aircraft components. He’s even made a design study of something that would really cause a stir in the world of electric sailplanes.
“I just want to send you some pictures of a concept model I’m working on. The idea is for a 6- seat sailplane, I thought about this 10 or 15 years ago when I first started getting to cloudbase in a hang glider. It is a magical world, particularly in an open air type vehicle: wouldn’t it be wonderful to share with friends. Now it seems to have turned out to be an 8-seat [sailplane with] twin electric propulsion. Somehow the canopy will stow for open top operations, while there is room for the bathroom, coffee machine, oven etc. Designed for cloudbase tea and scones [or a] gliding chess club with excellent views, [it would also make] a really great venue for corporate meetings… a way to stimulate creativity.
“I realize the weight will present some trouble keeping it slow enough at a good sink rate, but there’s so often really good thermals and clouds, if only you can get there. Also we don’t want too much trouble towing, so I think it’s worth base-lining self-propulsion, so long as it is quiet and smooth. The booms are to house the motors’ batteries and series hybrid engine away from the cabin, and high to try to preserve the view. Electric fans have the nice feature of being able to easily mount on annular motors without gearing. The 42 meter (137 feet, 9 inches) wingspan will make it difficult to operate from small fields, but around here we have excellent soaring opportunities close to larger regional airfields like Kingaroy, and Coolangatta. I imagine this would be the case all over the world. The aerotow using something like a Caravan, would be only 10 minutes or so, then just a matter to get to good thermal lift with the auxiliary motors, and with hybrid propulsion, there’d never be a need to outland.”
The configuration may give inspiration to other designers, and the audacity of the idea is certainly full of high-flown hope. Imagine such a vehicle used for children’s birthday parties, or wedding receptions, or royal coronations. Imagination is a wonderful thing, and in this case, worthy of being made real. Richard’s web site shows more of his far-reaching ideas.