Look What Fred To Started!

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Materials, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

forty years ago today, Fred To’s Solar One flew the length of the runway at Lasham Airfield in Hampshire, England, solely on the energy derived from the weak winter illumination and stored in a small set of ni-cad batteries.. With his partner David Williams, he had built the wooden, model-aircraft-like structure in a farm building, visited by the farm’s horses and pigs. The airplane went on to be displayed at various airshows, and Fred went on to build an inflatable 100-foot-span flying wing that was the first to use “fly-by-wire” technology.  His inventiveness and design skills have informed many projects, as we reported in our November 2018 report on the award ceremony Fred recently attended. In short form, much has …

Fred To Receives a Well-Deserved Award

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Fred To (pronounced Toe) lives in England and was one of a small group who built and flew the world’s first solar-powered airplane in December 1978. They flew just a few months before Larry Mauro lofted his solar-riser in April 1979. Both airplanes were limited by the technology of the day, lithium-ion batteries still over a decade away, and the best solar cells achieving less than five-percent efficiency. Fred wrote to tell your editor of the award. “I was in Montreux Switzerland a few weeks ago, and on the 22nd of October I received an award from prince Albert II of Monaco for Solar One, which is now formally accepted as the first solar powered aircraft to fly. It was …

Icarus Cup Achieves New Records

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Doing more with much less, British pilots at this year’s Icarus Cup follow in Paul MacCready’s aerial path, staging a highly successful weeklong demonstration of human-powered flight.  Airplanes that fly on about a quarter-kilowatt for as long as the human battery can operate the pedals are not new, and significant records have been achieved over the years. The British have long been involved, beginning with the 590 meters flight by Derek Piggott on November 9, 1961 in SUMPAC (Southampton University’s Man Powered Aircraft – note the sexist terminology of the day).  This was considered the first authenticated takeoff and flight by a human powerplant.  He made 40 flights before suffering a crash that damaged a wing. To help foster interest …

A New British Club for HPAs

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

For the last six decades, the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) has overseen records keeping for human powered aircraft (HPAs).  They report, “The Man Powered Aircraft Group of the Royal Aeronautical Society originated in 1959 when the members of the Man Powered Group of the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield were invited to become a group of the Society. Its title was changed from ‘Man’ to ‘Human’ in 1988 in recognition of the many successful flights by woman pilots.” Mr. Henry Kremer turned the wistful dreams of many to serious competition by donating over 275,000 pounds sterling ($440,000 at today’s exchange rates) in prize money for achievements such as flying a figure eight around to markers a half-mile apart and starting …