Dynamic and Regenerative Soaring – Perpetual Energy in Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

Phil Barnes has an impressive set of credentials, and an even more impressive body of work.  Having seen three of his presentations at the Experimental Soaring Association’s Western Workshops, this writer can attest to the breadth and depth of his knowledge. According to his biography, “Phil Barnes has a Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Cal Poly Pomona and a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arizona. He has 25-years of experience in the performance analysis and computer modeling of aerospace vehicles and subsystems at Northrop Grumman. Phil has authored technical papers on aerodynamics, gears, and flight mechanics.” He now has his own web site, How Flies the Albatross, where readers can interact with the flight of …

A Second Slovenian Self-Launching Sailplane – With a Solar-Powered Trailer

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Tine Tomazic of Pipistrel alerted the blog that his firm started series production of their Taurus Electro G2, a first for a two-seat electric aircraft, according to Pipistrel, claiming 20 customers who will receive their G2’s by year’s end. Improvements over the prototype led to the “rev.2” series version of the self-launching sailplane, which also is the first electrically-powered craft to exceed the performance of its two-stroke Rotax-powered alternative, according to Tomazic. Pipistrel expands on this.  “Taurus Electro G2 can use a shorter runway, climbs faster and performs much better than the gasoline-powered version when it comes to high altitude operations. All this is possible thanks to the specially-developed emission-free Pipistrel 40kilowatt electric power-train.”  The clean sailplane design (40:1 glide …

The Kindest Cut of All

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

In 1811, an inventive tailor in Ulm, Germany attempted a hang glider flight across the Danube River.  He failed in the attempt, but it became the stuff of legend and at least one television commercial.  Albrecht Ludwig Berblinger (1770-1829) had wanted to be a watchmaker, but was consigned to become a cutter of fabric.  Despite this, he used his spare time to invent things like the first jointed artificial leg in 1808. Perhaps his skills with fabric led to his fabricating a pair of wings, essentially a hang glider, Shunned by his fellows for working outside the discipline of tailoring, Berblinger poured his resources into building and testing his glider.  Leaping from a scaffold built for the attempt by Prince …

Front Electric Self-Launcher on a Silent

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

Slovenian father-son team Luka and Matija Znidarsic developed a unique approach to keep a sailplane aloft once it’s launched through traditional aero-tow or winch methods.  Their outrunner  brushless motor produces 15 kilowatts (20 horsepower)at 100 Volts continuously, and can generate 25 kW (33 horsepower) for short bursts.  Weighing  6.5 kilograms (14.3 pounds) in a 180 millimeter (7 inches) diameter, 80 mm (3.15 inches) long package, the motor can be easily set into the modified nose of a conventional sailplane, with a one-meter diameter propeller folding neatly into the streamlines of the fuselage.  It has powered a LAK-17A 18-meter sailplane, showing a positive rate of climb when energized.  In a big sailplane like the LAK, the motor allows shortening expensive tows or extending flight when thermals become iffy. Now, …

Aircraft That Don’t Ask For Directions

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

During the last two Electric Aircraft Symposia, Sebastian Thrun has shared his visions of future autonomous highways travelled by free-range cars that literally think ahead of the curve and don’t allow themselves to be boxed in – and even more daunting – autonomous helicopters that independently perform maneuvers that stretch the envelope in new directions and dimensions. His 2009 EAS presentation featured a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) desert race in which his Stanford University team fielded a Volkswagen Taureg in a 132-mile race through the Mojave.  Although not the ultimate winner, Stanford’s entry completed the course in a time that would have done pride to any human Baja race driver. More related to daily driving and eventual incorporation into …

(Mostly) Borne on the Wind Across Australia

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Wind surfing across southern Australia, a German team showed ingenuity and skill in a 3,000 mile journey that, as their web site boasts, used “no electricity mains, no gasoline,” and produced “zero CO2.” TG Daily and Gizmag announced the successful crossing of Australia (Albany to Sydney) by a wind-powered car.  Although the car carried a telescoping mast and small wind turbine to recharge its 8 killowatt hour lithium battery pack, the two designer/drivers were forced to plug in to available sources from time to time, accounting for the $15 cost of the powering the expedition.  When possible, they towed the 200 kilogram (440 pound) car with a kite. The Wind Explorer web site proclaims that “Plan[ning] your route with the …

Are Wind Turbines Bad for Aviation?

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

It would be a supreme irony if a part of environmentally-positive power production halted the possibility of “green” aviation by making it unsafe to be in the skies.  Luckily, this might not be the major problem some perceive, and solutions are in place or being developed.   For a brief time last April the United States Air Force held up construction of an eastern Oregon wind farm that will be the largest in America.  Concerned with the possible interference that 300 new giant wind turbines might cause for radar station transmissions in an otherwise remote part of the state, the Air Force stepped in.  That was a short-lived interruption, with Oregon’s Senators countering with concerns about the 706 jobs, $130 million in taxes to local …

Something(s) Amazingly New Under the Sun

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

To share an idea of how packed with information and inspiration an Electric Aircraft Symposium can be, I’m still writing reports on the fourth annual event, even though EAS V is coming up April 29 in Santa Rosa, California.  This is the next-to-last blog entry on last year’s presentations, and as noted in yesterday’s press release for the event, 2011’s will have at least as many presenters and material. Tyler MacCready is the son of Paul MacCready, founder of AeroVironment, Inc. and inspiration for many human-powered, ultralight, and solar-powered aircraft over the last several decades.  This author was in England when Bryan Allen pedaled Gossamer Albatross across the English Channel, a breakthrough in what was considered aerodynamically and structurally possible.  …

5th Annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium Launches New Age of Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Dr. Brien Seeley, founder and President of the CAFE Foundation, shares this important news. SANTA ROSA, CA.—On April 29-30, 2011, an outstanding faculty from NASA, industry and academia will present the technologies necessary to inaugurate the Age of Electric Flight.  The 5th Annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium (EAS V) will reveal how safe, emission-free, 2-4 seat electric aircraft could soon make a doorstep-to-doorstep round trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles on a single battery charge at nearly twice the overall trip speed of airline travel.  The latest breakthroughs in energy storage, motors, quiet propulsion, powered lift, electronic pilot assistance, autonomous flight and aerodynamics will be presented along with proposals for how they can transform transportation. EAS V will again network …

Genomics and Sunlight Equal Fuel

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

AvWeb.com has turned a moderately skeptical eye on a new energy development that would sound too good to be true if it weren’t for the prominent names involved.  John Podesta, former White House Chief of Staff, is on the Board of Directors – and even more convincing, George Church, sequencer of the human genome, is a founder of and science advisor to the firm, Joule Unlimited, Inc. Their web site has more registered trademarks than Burger King*, including Liquid Fuel from the Sun™, Helioculture™, SolarConverter™, and direct-to-end-product™.  Joule’s technology promises Diesel or ethanol liquid fuels in huge amounts, using “proprietary organisms” to directly convert CO2 struck by sunlight into replacements for existing fossil fuels.  According to Joule, “Our technology has already …