CAFE News: Comparing Apples, Bananas, Oranges and Doughnuts

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

One of the problems facing judges in the July Green Flight Challenge the CAFE Foundation is managing for NASA is that of determining fairly who gets the best fuel mileage.  Since “fuel” in this case can be traditional aviation gasoline, bio-diesel, electricity from batteries or solar panels, or some other energy storage medium, wildly different energy densities have to be taken into account. If TSA “freedom feels” seem intrusive, the scrutiny applied to GFC entrants and their craft will be even more onerous.  Aircraft will be impounded once inspected and registered, and the only contact pilots may have with their planes before taking off will be to “top off” their fuel tanks or batteries just before the start of their …

Green Flight Challenge: It Might Look Like a Quickie…

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 9 Comments

But it will be the Feuling Green Flight Challenger, an entirely new iteration of the Quickie “formula” if Gene Sheehan, Vic Turner, Luke Leatherman and Allon McBee have their way.  Created in the wake of the Vari-Eze’s and Long-Eze’s of the early 1970’s, the original Quickie was an 18-horsepower Onan industrial engine-powered irreducible flying machine with great speed for its low power and unbelievable fuel economy.  The team’s GFC Challenger is electric, and a far cry from its cast iron past – or the iron-horse Harley-Davidson motorcycles that are part of its surroundings. “Feuling” comes from the high-performance motorcycle and automobile developer who started the company bearing his name.  Jim Feuling had over 100 patents to his name, worked with …

Green Flight Challenge: Six Steps to Synergy

Dean Sigler GFC, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Conventional wisdom says that an airplane is a collection of compromises – a premise seemingly borne out in practice.  Bigger wings mean slower speeds, but more lift.  Smaller engines mean less performance, but better economy.  Roomier cockpits mean lower fuel mileage and reduced cross-country range.  Everybody knows these things. But what if, applying the Firesign Theater’s comedic dictum, “Everything you know is wrong,” someone shook those bits of conventional wisdom and sorted out a new way of looking at an airplane?  It’s been done before.  Burt Rutan’s wildly creative approach to seeing past convention gave us the Varieze, Catbird, Boomerang, Proteus, Voyager, and Spaceship One, among others.  Because such creations don’t follow the usual scientific method of changing one variable …

CAFE News: Become a Part of Aviation History – Help Fund the Green Flight Challenge

Dean Sigler GFC 0 Comments

The CAFE Foundation is a small, all volunteer, and remarkably effective group based at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, California.  Consider that the Foundation Board members, eight strong, planned and executed all aspects of the fourth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium. This world-class gathering was the product of tight organization, shared goals, and truly remarkable, dedicated people. CAFE Foundation has also documented the performance and flying characteristics of over 25 popular light aircraft, providing scientifically accurate verification or rejection of the sometimes extravagant claims of builders and manufacturers.  They have created scientific instruments and techniques that have enhanced the collection of accurate data.  Hard work and honesty has provided a touchstone for the evaluation of modern …

An LSA With the Electric Heart of an Airliner

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC 9 Comments

Stephan Boutenko, Alternair President and founder, seeks a Light Sport Aircraft alternative, an airplane looking like an LSA, but loaded with features that will allow it to keep pace with the rapidly changing options coming to electric flight. Inspired by Yuneec’s E-430 but disappointed by its slow cruising speed, Boutenko was determined to create something more in line with LSA performance criteria. He also wanted to take advantage of the knowledge he had gained from years of experience with heavier aviation to create an integrated system that would allow flexibility and expandability in the development of his airplane. Unabashedly conventional in appearance, the low-wing, tricycle geared monoplane is conceived to make a pilot transitioning from an internal combustion powered machine …

CAFE News: Doctors Seeley and Ford Stand and Deliver

Dean Sigler GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

At the fourth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium, April 23 and 24 at Rohnert Park, California, two CAFE leaders provided the audience with superb presentations on CAFE Foundation’s history and future goals. Dr. Larry Ford, Vice President of the organization, led with highlights from CAFE’s past, including the scientific efforts to measure aircraft drag and provide actual numbers for comparing aircraft performance, a goal inherent in the CAFE name. He highlighted the work of many past and present CAFE volunteers (after all, CAFE is all volunteer, and a 501c.3 charitable organization promoting aeronautical research at both the grass roots and the highest levels), including the CAFE Barograph, a significant instrument that allowed objective flight performance characterization of individual aircraft and honest …

Putting The Human in Human Factors

Dean Sigler GFC 0 Comments

Part of the Green Flight Challenge is the provision of adequate human factors design in the cockpit of the projected airplane. One can only design in so much ergonomic and safety-minded concern for the pilot and passengers. The ultimate human factor is indeed human, a topic Dr. Key Dismukes handled quite ably at the fourth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium. As noted in his NASA resume, “Dr. Dismukes is Chief Scientist for Human Factors in the Human Factors Research & Technology Division at NASA Ames Research Center (CV ). His current research addresses cognitive issues involved in the skilled performance of pilots, their ability to manage challenging situations, and their vulnerability to error. Among the topics investigated by his research group …

Green Flight Challenge Competitors Come Together on Perlan Project

Dean Sigler GFC 1 Comment

The Cafe Foundation’s Green Flight Challenge, scheduled for 2011, has drawn some impressive competitors with its $1.5 million prize.  Two of these, Greg Cole of Windward Performance, who will field a two-seat motorglider, and Einar Enevoldson, leader of the PC-Aero team, which will launch its Elektra One (see “PC-Aero’s Elektra One,” April 11, 2010), are working together quite collegially on a challenge of their own. Before his death in 2007, adventurer Steve Fossett, with co-pilot Enevoldson, had set the sailplane world altitude record in Perlan I, a modified Glaser-Dirks DG-500.  In a continuation of that ambitious adventure, Einar, Greg, and Project Manager Morgan Sandercock are creating Perlan II, a pressurized sailplane that will explore the realm of the nacreous, or …

PC-Aero’s Elektra One

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 14 Comments

Dipl. Ing. Calin Gologan, an exhibitor and presenter at this year’s E-Flight Expo at Friedrichshafen, will be at the fourth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium, discussing the design and technology he hopes will imbue the winning entry in next year’s Green Flight Challenge.   He notes that the GFC, “the world’s largest prize…awarded in general aviation,” was a major incentive in his pressing forward with an environmentally conscientious design. His Elektra One is part his PC-Aero’s ambitious campaign to fly three different electric aircraft in the next few years, the single-seat “One,” two-seat “Two,”, and most ambitiously, a four-seat “Four.” With at least the shell of Elektra One at the Expo, Gologan is making good progress toward completion of his GFC machine, the prototype for …