SolarStratos Makes First Flight

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

SolarStratos, a feather-light 450 kilogram (990 pound), solar-powered airplane, lifted off for the first time on May 5 in Payerne, Switzerland.  Considering its 24.9 meter (81.69 feet) wingspan, the airplane shows designer Calin Gologan’s ability to squeeze performance from every gram of structure.  It flies nicely, too, with test pilot Damian Hischier enthusing, “The plane is very nice to [fly].  [Its] reactions are healthy, and we see that it was well designed.” Sharing Payerne Airport with Solar Impulse, SolarStratos represents a different kind of adventure, ready to make five-hour flights to 75,000 feet (two hours up, five hours down).  Such flights can carry a pilot and scientific measuring equipment, or for those lucky enough to have the price of admission, …

Solar Impulse Pilot Andre’ Borschberg to Speak at SAS 2017

Dean Sigler SAS, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

One of two pilots who guided Solar Impulse around the world will speak at the 2017 Sustainable Aviation Symposium.  Andre’ Borschberg, having accomplished along with Bertrand Piccard an extraordinary voyage, uses his reputation and celebrity to educate the world that the “Future is Clean,” a watchword for the team’s ongoing efforts. Last November, for instance, Bertrand Piccard “launched the World Alliance for Clean Technologies under the umbrella of the Solar Impulse Foundation – a second phase in the realization of his vision that clean technologies can accomplish impossible goals and solve many of the challenges facing our society today.” In the meantime, Andre’ uses his engineering talents and perspective to bringing about practical outcomes derived from his and Bertrand’s experiences.  Because …

Solar Impulse 2 Batteries – Better than We Thought

Dean Sigler Batteries, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

What happened to Solar Impulse 2’s batteries on those long five days and nights over the Pacific?  It took months of enforced downtime in Hawaii to have new batteries made, sent from Korea, installed, tested, and flown again.  Could the plane have completed the flight on the original batteries? Kokam, manufacturer of the airplane’s cells, has released new information that provides details of the drive system and relieves a few lingering anxieties.  An over-riding concern was that batteries overheated on the Japan to Hawaii part of the mission, topping out at 50 degrees Centigrade (122 degrees Fahrenheit) – above their design temperature.  Your editor has thought deeply about what Andre’ Borschberg must have gone through every day of the five …

Solar Impulse Makes a Final Landing

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Bertrand Piccard closed out the over-year-long endurance test of man and machine, landing in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, where the 17-leg journey began over a year ago. Landing at night in the glow of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center, the largest mosque in the UAE, and greeted by fellow pilot Andre’ Borschberg, the project’s sponsor HSH Prince Albert of Monaco, and a large throng in western and Middle Eastern garb, the flight climaxed not only an aerial adventure, but an opportunity to share multiple cultures and teach thousands of children and youth about alternative energy and the way to a green future for all. Whether the promises made at the United Nations and at COP21 in Paris …

Solar Impulse Word of the Day – Penultimate

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Headlines all over the world are sharing the word of the day – penultimate, meaning the next to the last* – in this case the next to last flight for Solar Impulse 2. The Guardian newspaper explained, “After setting off from Seville on Monday morning, the plane passed through Algerian, Tunisian, Italian and Greek airspace, and flew over the Giza Pyramids before touching down at Cairo airport at around 7.10am (5.10am GMT). Its support crew cheered as the plane, no heavier than a car but with the wingspan of a Boeing 747, landed, and trailed after it on bicycles.” Which brings up a question – why are the guys on foot outrunning the guys on the expensive electric bicycles? Certainly, …

Solar Impulse 2 Gets a Jet Escort

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Following a fairly non-eventful crossing of the Atlantic, Bertrand Piccard was greeted by a welcoming formation of Casa C-101 Aviojets, Spain’s Patrulla Águila flight demonstration team. After three days and nights in the air, Piccard landed in the Spanish sunrise, also finalizing efforts to establish the International Committee of Clean Technology (ICCT), whose goal is to continue Solar Impulse’s legacy, “promoting concrete energy efficient solutions in order to solve many of the challenges facing society today.” While “Until recently, protecting the environment was expensive and threatened our society’s comfort, mobility and growth. Today, thanks to modern clean technologies, the energy consumption of the world, and therefore the C02 emissions, could be divided by two, while creating jobs and enhancing profits. …

Solar Impulse’s Great Photo Op – and Special Birthday Guest

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Saturday night, if you were lucky enough to be wandering the streets of New York City, you would have seen a string of lights slowly crossing the sky above the Statue of Liberty, a stirring sight – especially for those following the over-year-long flight of Solar Impulse 2. Andre’ Borschberg had flown the giant electric airplane from the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania to the night skies over Manhattan, landing finally at John F. Kennedy International Airport.  The airplane will pause briefly before departing on a trans-Atlantic flight to an as-yet undisclosed location in Europe, from which it will make the final leg of the journey, returning to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. “The Statue of Liberty is a …

Vin Fiz and Solar Impulse

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Calbraith Perry Rodgers, the first person to fly across the United States, was deaf from an early childhood disease.  Even though he came from a long line of naval heroes, this handicap kept him from joining the Navy, but didn’t slow his quest for adventure.  He was one of the first to sign up for flying lessons with the Wright Brothers at their home base in Ohio. He was 31 years old when William Randolph Hearst offered a $50,000 prize to the first aviator to fly coast-to-coast in 30 days or less.  Rodgers convinced the Armour Meat Packing Company to sponsor his attempt as a promotion for their new soft drink, Vin Fiz.  As a coincidence, your editor visited the …

Solar Impulse Makes it to Mountain View

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

At 11:44 PDT, April 22, Solar Impulse 2, expertly piloted by Bertrand Piccard through tricky winds above Moffett Airfield, made its second landing in the United State, almost three  years after Solar Impulse 1 had left on its flight eastward* and just in time to close out Earth Day. HB-SIA (Solar Impulse 1) made its trip across America in six hops, none lasting more than 21 hours and 22 minutes.  HB-SIB (Solar Impulse 2) flew six hops between Abu Dhabi and Nanjing, China emulating the stages of the American crossing in distance and duration.  Things reached record-setting levels after that.  The 44-hour trip from Nanjing to Nagoya, Japan gave pilot Andre’ Borschberg a real workout, followed by his record-setting 117-hour …

A Solar-Algae Hybrid for an Atlantic Crossing

Dean Sigler Batteries, Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Henri Mignet was never quite able to master an airplane with three-axis controls, and built at least seven flawed attempts at simplified controlled flight. His seminal try, the HM-8 Pou de Ciel (literally, Louse of the Sky, or more familiarly, Flying Flea) became first a matter of celebration for amateur aviators and then a cause of scandal, being banned in Britain following a series of fatal crashes. The “formula”, as proponents called Mignet’s tandem wing configuration, was sorted out after wind tunnel tests in England and America uncovered the flaw that caused the craft to pitch down in an unrecoverable dive. (For a well-illustrated history of Mignet’s design, see Henri Mignet and his Flying Fleas by Ken Ellis and Geoff …