Dale Kramer’s VLazair – Swinging a Different Way

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Dale Kramer’s Lazair was one of the most popular ultralights in the 1980s, selling over 1,200 units.  He re-engineered it a decade ago and flew the electrically-powered version in both land and amphibious versions.  Appearances at AirVenture saw him making daily flights over the area.  Your editor was privileged to visit Dale’s home, once owned by Glenn Hammond Curtis in Hammondsport – who also flew his creations from Keuka Lake, one of New York’s Finger Lakes for which the region is named. Ever an inventive soul, Dale has returned to the drawing board, in his own way answering the question of how to perform vertical takeoffs and landings in a small, light, personal aircraft.  To overcome pilot’s getting cricks in their …

EAS IX: Chip Erwin Follows Up and Follows the Rules

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Chip Erwin is one of many who are trying to find less expensive ways for people to experience personal aviation.  His company, Aeromarine LSA, fields a range of small aircraft, but he has taken a turn toward the lighter end of the market with his latest offerings. We wrote last month about his dinner presentation at the ninth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium and this month he’s followed up on several of the craft he discussed that night. His web site explains the different rules and regulations that govern small aircraft.  Many rules are not yet established (electric motors in U. S. light sport aircraft, for instance).  The second segment of the “About Us” section of Aeromarine’s web site describes each …

Three Electric Airplanes Fly at AirVenture 2013

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Electric aircraft have flown for the last six years at the big Oshkosh AirVenture airshow.  Randall Fishman started the movement in 2007 showing his ElectraFlyer trike, and then flew his ElectraFlyer C, a single-seater derived from the Moni motorglider the following year.  He won the 2008 Stan Dzik Memorial Award For Design Contribution “for the installation of the Electric-Motor power train” and the Dr. August Raspet Award.   Last year he displayed his ElectricFlyer ULS, a twin-boom pusher with soaring capabilities. Others have followed, with Yuneec cruising overhead in 2010, winning the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP) prize for the craft’s “significant commercial potential” and “compelling design.” Dale Kramer, flying his twin-Joby-motored eLazair around the ultralight circuit in 2011, showed the …

EMG-5 Pulls Forward

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Brian Carpenter of Tangent Aircraft Development in Corning, California is crafting one of the more exotic ultralight aircraft in the history of ultralights. Your editor visited his shop in late September, and viewed progress at that point. Brian had most of the previously clecoed fuselage disassembled, and was weighing parts and options for shaving ounces. He has now turned to producing an on-line newsletter to keep followers posted.   In his first EMG-5 newsletter, Brian provides a quick look at the rapid reassembly and refinement that has taken place since. “The month of October has been our first full month to work uninterrupted on the project. We have made significant gains on the prototype as well as tooling for the …

EMG-5 Electric Motorglider

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

This isn’t Brian Carpenter’s first time at the small airplane rodeo.  He’s built at least a dozen aircraft, designed several from scratch, and even entertained the hosts of TV’s Mythbusters series with a series of rides in his team’s ultralights. His latest creation at Tangent Aircraft is a sleek Part 103 ultralight that seems to break or bend the rules on several fronts, presenting a twin-pivoting-motored, Fowler-flapped, retractable-gear craft that would seem to be too complex to fall into legal 103 status – or even into something the average novice private pilot would be allowed to fly.  The 36-foot span and 105-square-foot wing would seem too fast to meet stall limits. Carpenter explained his design philosophy to your editor a …

Electric Lazair Progress

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

During a visit to the International Vintage Sailplane Meet at Harris Hill, New York, your editor was fortunate to be a guest of Dale and Carmen Kramer, who graciously showed their home, once that of Glenn Curtis, “The Father of Naval Aviation.” Now the Hammondsport cottage (as in Glenn Hammond Curtis), which overlooks the lake where Curtis flew his early amphibians, is home to a high-tech cottage industry, with Dale creating battery monitoring systems, “brain boxes”, and other elements of his electrical power system for ultralight aircraft.  He designs the schematic and printed circuit boards for the system, sends them off to a PCB manufacturer and hand mounts very small components on the finished circuit boards, a process that would …

Early Warning for Li-Pos

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Nobody wants an airplane fire.  You’re way up in the air, can’t pull over to the curb, and have limited means of quelling the flames.  The most energy-dense batteries, based on lithium chemistries, are subject to failure from physical and electrical abuse.  Most cells run through their promised cycle life without giving a hint of trouble, but sometimes fate or mischance leads to disaster. Battery alternatives with lower risk usually possess lower energy and/or power density, crucial to use in aircraft, since weight is usually a primary consideration in vehicle design. Lithium fires are quite often spectacular, probably a consideration that prompts Dale Kramer to recharge his 100 pounds of cells in his fireplace – with the flue wide open.  …

World’s First Electric Amphibian

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 7 Comments

Just days after flying his electric Lazair for the first time, Dale Kramer attached a float, outriggers, and retractable landing gear to his ultralight craft, took off from the grass field near his home, and flew to a nearby lake to make his first water landings and takeoffs.  He even managed to ridge soar the aircraft and stalk floating ducks. Having designed the Lazair 30 years ago, Kramer was heavily involved in the burgeoning ultralight movement, and over 1,200 of the twin-engined craft were built.  Today, he’s taking a lead in creating a low-cost ultralight electric flyer, topping the considerable accomplishment with a true world first – a twin-motored ultralight electric amphibian. He uses a pair of Joby JM1 motors, monitored …

Electric Gull Flies at Arlington

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

The annual fly in at Arlington, Washington was an electric landing zone for Mark Beierle’s Gull 2000, powered by his own design 20-kilowatt motor.  The 36-coil, 42 magnet disk, weighing 16 pounds, is mounted on a truss arrangement behind the airplane’s high wing, and drives a ground-adjustable pusher propeller. Flying five half-hour demonstration flights during the half-week event accounted for almost half the six hours total time on the airplane so far. The airplane has a 74-Volt Rhino Lithium-polymer battery pack made up to 11 packs in a parallel/series arrangement. Beierle says this array, and taking voltage from the ends of each 3.7-Volt series pack, allows balancing of all 210 cells. Power is run through a 500-Amp Kelly controller, which weighs …

Another Electric Lazair

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Besides the incentives offered by the Green Flight Challenge and the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize, a venerable institution is encouraging electric flight with a series of prizes.  The Experimental Aircraft  Associations plans on awarding $60,000 to electric flight competitors during this year’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. According to EAA’s Newsline, “One entry in the EAA’s $60,000 Electric Flight Prize during AirVenture comes from a well-established design, the Electric Lazair, based on an ultralight designed more than 30 years ago by Dale Kramer, EAA 145132. Between 1979 and 1985, his company, Ultraflight, produced about 1,200 kits. Calling the twin-engine Lazair ‘an ideal vehicle for electric conversion,’ Kramer wrote that he has dabbled in trying to ‘electrify’ one several times.” Kramer recounted making …