Floating Over the Danube: The Vision of the Little Tailor of Ulm Lives

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The beautiful blue Danube River of Strauss waltz fame, “…Rises in the Black Forest mountains of western Germany and flows for some 1,770 miles (2,850 kilometers) to its mouth on the Black Sea. Along its course, it passes through nine countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. In 1811, Albrecht Ludwig Berblinger, a tailor in the city of Ulm near the headwaters of the second longest river in Europe, tried a novel idea – flying across the river on a nicely sewn-together hang glider.  His splashdown marked the end of his aeronautical career, but made him famous and an unlikely harbinger of things to come. City fathers have announced, “In the spirit of Berblinger, and continuing his vision, the City of Ulm aims to promote …

Berblinger Flight Competition Winners for 2011

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The town of Ulm, Germany holds an annual Berblinger Prize competition to honor the memory of the Little Tailor of Ulm, Albrecht Berblinger, who attempted to fly an early hang glider across the Danube in 1811.  This 200th anniversary year has been marked by special celebrations, including an ambitious aerial challenge for “green” aircraft. 36 applicants were pared to 24 participants in the actual flight competition, and on April 15, a mere 13 started on the flight between Friedrichshafen and Ulm and return.   Eight were able to complete the exercise, according to contest officials.  The rest were unable to compete or finish, “due to insufficient financial backing, technical difficulties or the absence of the appropriate flying licenses the remaining competitors …

Richard Van Grunsven’s Antares 20E

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

In a visit to Richard Van Grunsven’s airport home, just across the Sunset Highway from North Plains, Oregon, this blogger was privileged to get a closeup view of his Antares 20E, an electric self-launching sailplane from Germany’s Lange Aviation.  Spanning 20 meters (65.6 feet), the gleaming white ship has fluidity of line and integrity of design one would expect from Gerhard Waibel (the “W” in Alexander Schleicher’s ASW sailplanes).  The outstanding feature that sets this particular long-span craft apart is its 42 kilowatt (57 horsepower) motor, snugged neatly into a bay behind the pilot, and raised on a carbon-fiber mast by a smooth electric/hydraulic mechanism.  A cylindrical unit, the motor’s outer shell rotates about a stationary hub attached to the …