A Big Plane Swallows a Bigger Airplane, Flies it to Abu Dhabi

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse 2 is a big airplane, with a wingspan greater than that of the Boeing Cargolux carrier that transported it to Abu Dhabi this last weekend.  Seeing the craft slipped into the cargo hold of the whale-like Boeing, then disgorged a few hours later, presents an almost mythical vision of leviathans at work and play. Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, has been named the Host City of Solar Impulse for the first round-the-world solar flight, to be started 50 days from now in March.  Following over a score of test flights in Switzerland, HB-SIB was dismantled and packed aboard the 747 that would carry it to the UAE, where it will be prepared for …

Solar Impulse Wrapping Up Flight Tests before Heading to Abu Dhabi

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse 2, HB-SIB, flying now for several months, is being readied for a trip to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates and host city for Solar Impulse’s around-the-world flight.  From there, early in 2015, it will embark on its around-the-world flight, alternately flown by Bertrand Piccard and Andre’ Borschberg. The program continues the drive and immense logistical planning evidenced by Solar Impulse 1’s across-America flight last year.  “What better way to demonstrate the importance of the pioneering, innovatory spirit than by achieving ‘impossible’ things with renewable energy and highlighting new solutions for environmental problems?” This attitude will be necessary to overcome the challenges of five-day, cross-ocean flights each pilot will face, and to meet the meteorological …

Solar Impulse 2 Makes Premier Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse HB-SIB, the second aircraft from the program headed by Andre’ Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, took to the skies early this morning piloted by Markus Scherdel.  Taking off from Payerne Airport at 3:38 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) Solar Impulse 2 climbed to a randomly orbiting path within a 20-mile compass of the airfield to the southwest, Lake Neuchatel to the north, and Belleville to the northeast. At about 4:01 GMT, and about 5,300 feet, Scherdel reported a slight vibration and briefly leveled off until determining that it was probably an aerodynamic vibration – not a motor issue, but possibly from a hatch door.  He continued climbing and performed a bank angle test of 5° at varying airspeeds and “a …

72 Hours of Flight, Exercise, Rest, and Hypnosis

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The first Solar Impulse airplane, HB-SIA, has demonstrated repeatedly that it can stay up all day and all night.  The idea of perpetual flight has enticed designers for years, but the idea of a perpetual pilot has not – until the space age.  Charles Lindbergh had a restless night before his May 20, 1927 takeoff for Europe and spent much of the 33-1/2 hour flight battling his nearly overwhelming need for sleep.  A solar-powered flight will be considerably slower, and thus longer in duration, than Lindbergh’s epic voyage, however. With planned flights for HB-SIB, the second Solar Impulse craft, anticipated to span continents and oceans, the need for maintaining pilot health and alertness becomes imperative. As the team explains, “Over …

Your Black Friday (and All-Year) Giving List

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

With merchants beating the drums of commerce to lure you to their stores and web sites for holiday cheer (at least for the merchants), your editor has some alternative giving suggestions that could help bankroll the future of aviation (if not aviation futures).  Each of these projects would welcome funding, and each has much to give back to all of us. Put Your Face in Space The Perlan Project has initiated a fund-raising program on Indie-Go-Go, with the immediate goal to complete construction of the major parts of Perlan II, a high-performance, high-altitude research sailplane recently featured in the New York Times.  Its planned mission to 90,000 feet in the Polar Vortex could give us new and profound understanding of …

Solar Impulse Makes It to New York Early

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

It’s hard to believe that the Solar Impulse has been on its Cross America tour since May 3, but its early touchdown at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport late Saturday night was cause for elation on at least two counts. First, as the Solar Impulse team points out, “For the first time a plane capable of flying day and night powered exclusively by solar energy has crossed the USA from the West to the East Coasts without using a single drop of fuel.”  As we love to point out, though, it’s not the first time a solar-powered airplane has made the trip.  Eric Raymond did it in 21 hops in 1990 in Sunseeker 1, using the technology …

What a Month This Will Have Been

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

With Solar Impulse descending on Washington, D. C., the Cross USA flight reached a symbolic conclusion, bringing the future to a capitol that seems resistant to even modest change, let alone radical departures from current, conventional reality. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n64tAJs_c8w With one hop to go in its journey, Solar Impulse has spread the message of what might be if we have the will to overcome the inertia brought about by our well-lobbied legislature. Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard have one more opportunity to challenge the world to adopt green energy when Solar Impulse goes to New York City. Monday, they met with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, with whom they participated in an energy roundtable and news conference about the technology that made …

HB-SIA Across America

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

This morning, Andre’ Borschberg and Bertand Piccard revealed the potential route for Solar Impulse’s Across America mission in a press conference at Moffett Airfield in Mountain View, California. The airplane is fully reassembled after being brought to America on a Boeing 747.  Test flights will begin March 30th, and a technical flight “to test the aircraft’s mission readiness” for the coast-to-coast flight will take place March 30th. According to the Solar Impulse project, “The voyage will start in San Francisco on May 1st with stopovers in Phoenix (Arizona), Dallas (Texas), Atlanta (Georgia) or St. Louis (Missouri) on its way to Washington D.C. and New York City. The exact dates for each leg are undefined, as weather conditions play a factor …

Solar Impulse on 60 Minutes

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Alexandra Gindroz, Media Relations Manager for Solar Impulse, shared this late-breaking development today. “60 MINUTES recently visited Solar Impulse, the first manned solar airplane able to fly day and night without fuel. Learn about this groundbreaking project widely recognized as a 21st century adventure with a real utility in promoting technological innovation on CBS 60 MINUTES Sunday December 2nd at 7 P.M ET.”   Even more exciting to alternative energy aviation followers, Solar Impulse plans on flying its airplane across the United States early next year.  “In the summer of 2010, Solar Impulse successfully conducted the first ever historical 26-hour flight bringing the notion of perpetual flight closer to reality. This revolutionary airplane is much more; it is an adventure that shapes tomorrow through …

Solar Impulse Crosses Mediterranean, Joins Continents

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Waking up in the middle of the David Letterman show this morning, your editor stumbled into the computer room to check on the Solar Impulse trip to Morocco.  From the live Google Earth map shown on their web site, and the inset live video of Bertrand Piccard, all was well, and the giant solar-powered craft was sailing over surprisingly irregular terrain.  It just wasn’t the expected flat, featureless desert seen in countless films. Solar Impulse was probably still flying over Spain at that time, having taken off at 3:22 a. m. local time (5:22 coordinated universal time or Greenwich time) from Madrid’s Barajas Airport.    At 7:30 a. m. local time (Pacific Daylight Time – 4:30 UTC), Bertrand Piccard was crossing the narrow …