In my dreams I fly like a bird… Martin Wezel 1964 – 2011

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

It takes intelligence, courage and a special spark to design, build, and test fly an airplane.  It becomes a deep loss for all in the aviation community when that spark is extinguished.  We are saddened to learn of the death of Martin Wezel in the crash of a Yuneec E1000 he was scheduled to fly in the Green Flight Challenge.  Wezel was designer and distributor of aircraft such as the Viva, a high-performance motorglider that had brought him to the attention of Tian Yu, Chairman of Yuneec International. Yu reflected on the loss of Martin in a company announcement. In Germany, his wife Petra lamented the loss of her “dear man and best friend,” and vowed to continue operating the company to which he …

Synergy: A Practical Lightplane for the New Century

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

At EAS V, Synergy Chief Operating Officer John Paul Noyes framed his presentation of the Synergy aircraft by showing a picture of a 1973 portable telephone, then comparing it to a current model.  The clunky size, heft and limited utility of the former compared with its slim, feature-laden modern counterpart tells a story of intense design improvements, quantum increases in capabilities and far lower costs for a significantly better product – something usually anticipated in the history of modern products. Along with that historically comparative pairing, though, he showed pictures of a 1973 Cessna 182 and its Lycoming engine along with shots of modern examples of the two.  Not much other than the paint scheme distinguishes today’s Skylane from its …

Thunderbirds Are Go With Camelina

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The Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 demonstration team will become the first Department of Defense military air show group to fly on bio-fuel when two members of the team have their craft powered by a 50-50 mix of standard JP-8 and camelina-derived bio-fuel.  The flights were scheduled to place at Andrews Air Force Base for the Joint Services Open House on May 20 and 21. The team follows two other uses of camelina in military jets: the Earth Day 2010 flight of an FA-18s (the Green Hornet) and this year’s supersonic flight on the fuel blend by an F-22.  These demonstrations exhibit the interest DOD planners are taking in finding alternative fuels. The Air Force press release makes the overall effects of such changes …

E-Fenix, the Two-Seater Trike

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Anne Lavrand, Electravia’s General Manager, announced the E-Fenix, the first two-seat electric paratrike.  Developed with Planète Sports & Loisirs, a leisure activities company based on Re Island, off the coast of La Rochelle, France, the trike will carry visitors on discovery flights over the scenic island. E-Fenix has an electric propulsion system from Electravia, which includes a 35-horsepower GMPE 104 motor, an E-Props QD2 four-blade propeller, and a six kilowatt-hour Kokam Lithium-Polymer battery.  All is carried aloft on a 38-square-meter ITT Bulldog wing, which can fly 35 minutes with two persons aboard, and 55 minutes with only the pilot.  First flights took place on May 12th, with Michaël Morin as test pilot. Reported to be “very silent and comfortable,” the trike …

Sustainable Soaring

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Glaser-Dirks Flugzeugbau, the German sailplane manufacturer, has introduced the DG-1001te, a two-seat, electric turbo craft that can sustain flight and even show a modest rate of climb, but is not capable of self-launching. The “turbo” designation is common on European craft that rely on a pop-up motor to maintain flight in unfavorable soaring conditions.  Following an aero-tow or winch launch, the sustainer engine is used to allow “get-home mode” operation, or to maintain altitude while the pilot searches for areas of better lift. Until recently, single- and two-cylinder Solo two-stroke engines served on many applications.  Electric motors are beginning to find favor, though, because of their ease of starting and the fact that their light weight and high power output …

Solar Impulse Flies Over Four Countries on First International Flight

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Supporters of the Solar Impulse gathered to celebrate the giant solar-powered airplane’s landing in Brussels, Belgium today after the craft had crossed Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, and Belgium in its 630 kilometer (340 nautical mile), 12 hour, 59 minute flight. André Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of the project, flew the mission, starting 8:30 a.m. Payerne, Switzerland time and took the leisurely flight over some of the most scenic landscapes in Europe, with an average speed of 50 kilometers per hour (27 mph – one mile per hour under the stall speed of US ultralights).  He had time to enjoy the view from his average cruising altitude of 1,828 meters (6,000 feet).  Borschberg explained, “It’s a spectacular flight. The takeoff was a …

The Joby Monarch – Rising Above It All

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

JoeBen Bevirt is an extraordinary individual – and that’s no hyperbole.  Creating a lucrative underpinning with his line of knobby, infinitely-adjustable tripods, cell-phone and iPad™ holders, and LED lights, he has expanded into designing giant kites to fly into upper-atmosphere winds and generate high-output electricity.  To loft these kites, he has created a line of motors with the aid of Diederik Marius, shown on the Joby Motors web site, and so far include two versions each of the JM1S and JM2S.  Each can be configured with different windings for different applications.  The JM1S weighs 1.8 kilograms (3.96 pounds) and can put out 12 kilowatts peak (16 horsepower) at 6,000 rpm.  Diminutive, it is only154 millimeters in diameter (6.06 inches) and …

Pipistrel’s Four-seat, Side-by-side Electric Airplane

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

One of the most anticipated presentations at this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium in Santa Rosa, California, April 29th and 30th, was that of the CAFE Foundation’s Vice-President, Larry Ford.  He had the enviable task of unveiling the contenders in the Green Flight Challenge – a mix of conventional aircraft powered by unconventional means, unconventional craft being sent aloft by a variety of the mundane and the exotic, and wildly unconventional concatenations of technologies. Pipistrel’s G4 turned out to be simple math: G2 plus G2 equals G4.  The configuration could hardly be preconceived, though.  According to Pipistrel USA’s Michael Coates, “This unique design has come about by grafting two Pipistrel Taurus aircraft together with a center section which is some 5 meters (16 …

Soullier’s Record – And One You Might Set

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At least one of the records Jean-Luc Soullier had hoped for came true during Aero 2011 at Friedrichshafen in early April.  Officially validating the speed record, the Federation Aeronautique Internationale has yet to recognize the altitude record achieved during the same flight. Soullier’s MC-30 Luciole (Firefly) had a royal Sponsor, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco observing while Jean-Luc flew a 15/25 kilometer (9.3/15.5 miles) straight-line course out and return at 135 kilometers per hour (83.7 mph), winning the RAL1E subclass speed record for microlights. Several subclasses exist for one and two-seat electric microlights – few of which have recognized records, and thereby becoming an opportunity for early adapters of battery-powered, fuel cell or hybrid flight.  These “empty” subclasses are a golden opportunity for those willing to provide …

European Flights for Solar Impulse

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Solar Impulse, the first solar airplane to fly overnight (26 hours – minutes), will voyage from its native Switzerland to Lausanne and Brussels, Belgium – its first European destination – on  28 April 2011.  The airplane will be displayed in the European capital from 23 to 29 May 2011 and will then attempt to fly on to Paris-Le Bourget, where it is eagerly awaited as the “Special Guest” of the 49th International Paris Air Show from 20 to 26 June 2011.HB-SIA’s press release continues, “In 2008, even before the solar airplane existed, the European Commission had publicly sponsored Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg’s project. Three years later, by accomplishing the first flight through a whole day and night, lasting over 26 hours, without using fuel, …