Al Bowers and the Bell-Shaped Curve

Dean Sigler Basic Science Research Program, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Al Bowers has promoted a different kind of lift distribution curve for wings in his talks at the Experimental Soaring Association’s Western workshop, held every Labor Day weekend at Mountain Valley Airport in Tehachapi, California.  Most aerodynamics textbooks model the elliptical lift distribution as an ideal to be achieved in wing design.   R. J. Mitchell, designer of the classic Spitfire fighter, incorporated an elliptical planform, which serendipitously allowed room for the Browning machine guns in the capacious inboard sections.  What could be wrong with that when the finest sailplanes exploit that same theory in their slender spans? Albion Bowers is retiring Chief Scientist at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base.  His experiments with an alternative way of …

SmartFlyer is Looking Smart

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Only a design concept just a few years ago, the SmartFlyer hybrid aircraft is swiftly approaching full-fledged reality.  CEO Rolf Stuber started the project and has been joined by Daniel Wenger, who shares design honors with him; and eleven others with a dazzling array of skills and degrees.  Every member of the team has built, flies or has flown in everything from gliders to “heavy” airliners. The team’s goal is to craft a “proof of concept” airplane which will fly by 2021. Facebook Updates Recent Facebook photographs show a nose section with a Rotax 914 engine driving a special generator, yards of orange cable connecting the big pieces, and a set of formers for what will probably be the fuselage …

Sustainable Aviation Symposium – Free on YouTube!

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, SAS, Sky Taxis, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The 2018 Sustainable Aviation Symposium was a master class in aircraft design, electric and hybrid power, and the strategies that will make green flight a reality in our near and distant futures.  The considerable knowledge imparted in that gathering is now available for your education and enlightenment on YouTube. Better than (Most) Cat Videos Go here to see the entire 2018 Symposium program, complete with links to a video of each speaker’s talk. Or go here for the library of presentations on YouTube. Either link provides high-quality video of the 20 presentations from this year’s Sustainable Aviation Symposium.  You will see all the slides in each presentation and hear each presenter’s eloquent exposition.  These range from the simplest of garage-based …

Jetstream Cargo Gliders – Colorado to China in Three Days

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Just as Richard Starke was explaining to Experimental Soaring Association attendees at this year’s Western Workshop how his proposed stratospheric cargo glider program would work, some multi-tasker checking his tablet shouted, “Perlan’s reached 76,000 feet!” Richard’s concept of launching cargo gliders that would ride the jet stream between continents was suddenly validated before an audience that a few minutes before might have been dazzled and even skeptical of his proposal.  Perlan’s tows behind the recently recruited Grob Egret turboprop towplane made 10,000 feet in 10 minutes a time-to-climb reality, and tows to 40,000 feet allowed rapid exploration of developing air masses over the Patagonian mountains. The idea of flying large, cargo-carrying gliders goes back to at least Word War Two, …

Wireless Charging for Drones

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

In its introduction, Global Energy Transmission Corporation (GET) promises virtually indefinite flight for multi-rotor aircraft.  “GET re-invents [the] commercial drone industry providing [a] technical solution to power drones in 24×7 mode around dedicated area[s]. An electrically powered drone can recharge and fly indefinitely via efficient safe high power in-flight rapid recharging in a GET power hotspot. The company’s distance wireless charging technologies uniquely enable drone delivery and many other industrial applications.and many other industrial applications.”  This wireless charging concept goes back a long way. Tesla’s Dream In the film The Prestige, key parts center on visits to Nikola Tesla’s laboratory in upstate New York, where the tower that dominates the grounds was one of his dreams.  Although never completed in …

The Second SmartFlyer Challenge 2018

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, GFC, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Grenchen Airport in Switzerland held the second SmartFlyer Challenge on September 1st and 2nd, with a good showing for the European – and especially the Czech electric aircraft industry.  Although smaller in numbers of airplanes than last year’s premier event, the Challenge featured a series of top-drawer presentations by industry leaders, and the viewing of a new Czechoslovokian electric motorglider. A Distinguished Visitor Interest in the event is high in the Canton of Solothurn, the administrative region in which Grenchen resides.  The head of the Department of Economics for the Canton, Brigit Wyss, reported on the event in her personal blog.  She proclaimed, “Grenchen establishes itself as the European center of electric aviation. The Smartflyer Challenge, which was a novelty a …

Print ‘Em and Stick ‘Em Solar Cells

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

University of Newcastle (UON) researchers may have achieved a breakthrough in creating solar cells on flexible plastic made in a roll-to-roll process with an unbelievably low price and equally incredible sensitivity.  They seem to have succeeded where an American firm failed half a decade ago. Printed solar cells were first attempted about a decade ago, with Konarka trying to make solar cells on simple ink-jet printers.  The company failed, despite having a Nobel Prize winner and other top physicist and chemists overseeing the process.  The “cells” never achieved more than about four- or five-percent efficiency and their plastic substrate deteriorated rapidly. Today, The University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia, and CHEP, a client firm, are displaying their thin-cell, …

Elektra Solar Launches HALE with Autonomous Control

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Dr. Birgit Weißenbach of Elektra Solar GmbH and PC-Aero announced “The world’s strongest multifunctional solar-electric HALE aerial vehicle – the Elektra Two Solar: [with] “Take-off, flight and tough-down” successfully completed with [its] own autopilot system We usually think of HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) aircraft as being huge, sun-eclipsing things like AeroVironment’s flying wings or Boeing’s Phantom Eye.  These require large support systems and ground crews, much like the team that chased Solar Impulse around the world. Elektra Solar GmbH, a joint venture combining PC-Aero GmbH and Elektra UAS GmbH, uses aircraft designed by Calin Gologen, head of PC-Aero, and computer technology from Dr. Ing. Habil. Konstantin Kondak.  Since October, 2009 he headed a key research area, Flying Robots at …

BioLEC – First There was Light, Then There Was Energy

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Feature image credit: Victor Tangermann Futurism  ponders, “Sugar, Light, And A New Type of Chemistry — What It May Take To Wean Us Off Fossil Fuels” in an article by Dan Robitzki.  The topic brings a new term into your editor’s vocabulary – BioLEC – Bioinspired Light Escalated Chemistry.  The goal of such chemistry is to use the energy of two photons, “the tiniest quantifiable units of light, to power chemical reactions.”  This takes us into how trees and other photosynthesizing plants use quantum theory to make things grow. Trees Have Been Doing it For Years It’s a bit odd to think of trees and quantum physics in the same sentence.  Your editor used to think of sunlight striking leaves …

Solar-Only Quadrotor in Singapore

Dean Sigler Batteries, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

In their latest adventure in derring-do, a team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Engineering has developed and flown Asia’s first fully solar-powered quadcopter drone.  A large framework holds the solar cells, which are the sole means of powering the craft’s four motors.  Developers have flown the big square above 10 meters in test flights and achieved controllable flight without the use of batteries. Frogworks Snowstorm This is just the latest in a series of aeronautical exploits by NUS students.  In late 2015, they unveiled their Frogworks Snowstorm, a 24-rotor person carrier powered by 2.2 kilowatt (2.94 horsepower) motors driving 76-centimeter (30-inch) propellers. New Asia reported that, “At the London edition of technology event Founders Forum this …