Al Bowers and the Bell-Shaped Curve

Dean Sigler Basic Science Research Program, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Al Bowers has promoted a different kind of lift distribution curve for wings in his talks at the Experimental Soaring Association’s Western workshop, held every Labor Day weekend at Mountain Valley Airport in Tehachapi, California.  Most aerodynamics textbooks model the elliptical lift distribution as an ideal to be achieved in wing design.   R. J. Mitchell, designer of the classic Spitfire fighter, incorporated an elliptical planform, which serendipitously allowed room for the Browning machine guns in the capacious inboard sections.  What could be wrong with that when the finest sailplanes exploit that same theory in their slender spans? Albion Bowers is retiring Chief Scientist at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base.  His experiments with an alternative way of …

From Ultralight Sailplanes to a Miniatur-Wunderland

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Your editor has several friends who lay claim to the appellation, “ferroequinologist,” (student of the iron horse), meaning they fancy miniature trains and the layouts that support them.  One friend helped construct a layout that takes up most of a good-sized building in Portland, Oregon – but even he would be dumbfounded by the massive installation in Hamburg, Germany – which includes an international airport in its midst that accounts for 180 takeoffs and landings per day and handles 1.2 million “passengers” per year. Blogmeister Klaus Burkhard oversees a wonderful web site based primarily on ultralight sailplanes.  His writings have alerted your editor to the twin-motor self-launching ultralight Holliday Obrecht and his compatriots are building at EAA Chapter 309 in …