EAS IX: Aurora Flight Science Set Records without Pilots

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

John Langford, CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences, has been demonstrating autonomous aircraft for years – a fact he has shared with Electric Aircraft Symposium audiences several times.  This year he gave a brief history of Aurora, starting with the Sunlight Eagle, an adaptation of the Michelob Light Eagle, a human-powered aircraft that preceded the most successful long-distance flight by an HPA – the Daedalus with a 76-mile trip over the Mediterranean. The 2009 craft was originally powered with bicycle-like pedals and still holds four world records for human-powered flight. For its two test flights at Las Cruces International Airport, the pedals were replaced with solar panels, an electric motor, a high-performance battery, and a flight control system.  Even with all …

EAS VIII: John Langford Shares a Wide Range of Skills

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Dr. John S. Langford is the Chairman and CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation, which he founded in 1989.  He has Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees from MIT in Aeronautics and other disciplines. While at MIT, he led a series of human-powered aircraft projects, culminating in the Daedalus Project, which in 1988 made a 72-mile flight between the Greek islands of Crete and Santorini.  He was just named 2014 winner of the National Aeronautics Association’s Cliff Henderson Trophy, awarded for “…a living individual, group of individuals, or an organization whose vision, leadership or skill made a significant and lasting contribution to the promotion and advancement of aviation and aerospace in the United States.”   He shares the honor with earlier winners …

EAS VIII – A Day and a Half You’ll Never Forget

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Who would pass up a chance to stay at a nice resort, attend lectures that challenge and inspire, and meet at poolside with speakers who bring some of the sharpest minds in the world to bear on some of the biggest problems we all face?  Let’s face it.  Global warming probably won’t be going away anytime soon, and aviation seems destined to play a bigger part in polluting our otherwise near-perfect atmosphere. Unless…we learn how to make our favorite activity (in the top five for most of us, anyway), into a more responsible way to travel and recreate.  Since solving the problems which go with that responsibility will involve the best in aerodynamics, power systems and new, efficient technology, the …

Aerovel Autonomously Performs Takeoff, Flight, and Landing – Twice!

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As explained on their YouTube posting, Aerovel’s autonomous flight of their Flexrotor aircraft shows a remarkable level of adaptability and control.  “In what are believed to be the first-ever flight cycles of an unmanned aircraft based on an unmanned boat, Flexrotor launches from a remotely-controlled skiff while underway, climbs out as a helicopter, transitions to wing-borne flight, images the skiff while flying at low and high speeds, transitions back to thrust-borne flight, and retrieves autonomously onboard. The aircraft then shuts down, is automatically refueled and restarted, and repeats the first flight, finally being secured onboard in a docking station.” Aerovel notes that the boat was radio controlled, but the Flexrotor Pandora flew the mission on its own and without human …

Aviation Week Recognizes CAFE Foundation’s Efforts

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

As noted in this blog. Dr. Brien Seeley, President of the CAFE Foundation, has been actively promoting the idea of a short to intermediate range Sky Taxi, a two-seat aerial vehicle that would carry its passengers safely from 420-foot runway “pocket airports” to other such runways at other urban and suburban settings, or even pockets situated within major airports.  The safety and utility promised by these electrically-powered aircraft would provide convenient, inexpensive trips for commuters who would enjoy TSA-free travel up to 500 miles at point-to-point speeds exceeding even private LearJets. Aviation Week recently noted efforts by John Langford, CEO of UAV specialist Aurora Flight Sciences, to achieve part of Dr. Seeley’s far-reaching goals with today’s technology.  As Graham Warwick …