A Twin-Motored Ultralight Flying Wing – It’s the New Millennium

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Richard Glassock, an Australian now living and working in Hungary, sent the links to YouTube videos of a Millennium hang glider, neatly electrified and flown at this year’s Santa Cruz Salt Flats Race.  Richard has been a speaker at the Electric Aircraft Symposium with a talk on his efforts with small hybrid electric power systems for large-scale models and small aircraft. Steve Morris, co-designer of the Millennium along with Ilan Kroo, Brian Porter, Brian Robbins, and Erik Beckman helped develop this rigid-wing hang glider to offer a lighter, more portable version of Swift.  Steve reported on his electric-powered Swift at the 2010 Electric Aircraft Symposium. Ilan Kroo reflected on the idea of practical, powered ultralight sailplanes in his American Institute …

Airliners Get Better Mileage than Cars, and Trains do Even Better

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

Airliners beat cars in fuel economy, especially on longer trips.  That would not be news to attendees at recent Electric Aircraft Symposia, where speakers like Ilan Kroo, Stanford University professor and aircraft designer, have brought that message home. One of Kroo’s slides, shown below in a 2009 lecture (It’s nearly an hour, but worth a look and listen), lists a “narrow-body” airliner (in this case a Boeing 737-800) as able to fly one passenger coast-to-coast on 29 gallons of fuel, at about 81 passenger miles per gallon.  A person carpooling his or her four-passenger Prius and driving responsibly could beat that (although not in the five hours required for the jet to make the total flight), but most trips are solo …

Unique, From A (for Aerodynamics) to Zee

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Ilan Kroo, according to his biography page, is a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University, an advanced cross-country hang glider pilot, and designer of the Swift flying wing hang glider, unmanned aerial vehicles, a flying Pterosaur replica, America’s Cup sailboats, and high-speed research aircraft.  Currently on a leave of absence from Stanford, he has started Zee Aero, “a bay area start-up company focusing on bringing new technologies to civil aircraft.” Zee Aero, on its first of five sparse web pages, proclaims, “We’re creating an entirely new aircraft,” a heady claim considering the lack of supporting descriptions or illustrations.  But other sources have been made available, including Zee’s patent applications, which show a slim tricycle-gear fuselage surmounted by variously …

Electric, Small, and Challenging

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 4 Comments

Dr. Ilan Kroo, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford and designer of the Swift ultralight hang glider, among others, has a different kind of mission – that of reshaping small aircraft for the greatest efficiency. Lessons learned from light aircraft can be applied on a larger scale – but keeping it simple and light to begin with allows less expensive learning, according to Kroo. The outline for his presentation at the fifth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium in Santa Rosa, California on April 29, 2011 is instructive. He had three major topics, all repeating the title for his talk; “Design Concepts for Small Electric Aircraft.” The first topic emphasized the word, “Electric,” the second, “Small,” and the third, “Design …

The Autonomous Swift

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 0 Comments

There were two presentations on the Swift ultralight flying wing at this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium.  Dr Steve Morris of the MLB Company related the flight testing of a manned version of the craft, which had been and is being modified by a group of NASA researchers.  That NASA team presented material on the unmanned version of the Swift, as modified to allow autonomous flight.  Three industrious and inventive souls, Corey Ipollito, Paul Espinosa, and Al Weston, presented their work on the Swift Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), which they are undertaking with a small team of experts as a mostly volunteer effort at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California.  Ilan Kroo’s famous design has had many variants, including …