Aurora’s Odysseus – Large Enough for Its Mythic Name

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

Named for a mythical hero like its evolutionary predecessors, Aurora Flight Science’s Odysseus is a huge, but ephemeral thing. A wingspan larger than the largest 747’s and a weight no greater than a Smart Car’s (around 1,500 pounds) means this airplane will be slow and frail.  A carbon fiber tube structure covered by lightweight Tedlar™ resembles the construction of Solar Impulse, but without the bulk of carrying a pilot. Since its antecedent was the world record holding distance champion in human-powered aircraft, the manner of flight is no surprise.  Its intended altitude is.  Odysseus takes it to the stratosphere. It’s the latest revelation in a thirty-year exploration of low-powered, extreme-endurance aircraft.  Before he founded Aurora, John Langford led a group of …

EAS IX: Aurora Flight Science Set Records without Pilots

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

John Langford, CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences, has been demonstrating autonomous aircraft for years – a fact he has shared with Electric Aircraft Symposium audiences several times.  This year he gave a brief history of Aurora, starting with the Sunlight Eagle, an adaptation of the Michelob Light Eagle, a human-powered aircraft that preceded the most successful long-distance flight by an HPA – the Daedalus with a 76-mile trip over the Mediterranean. The 2009 craft was originally powered with bicycle-like pedals and still holds four world records for human-powered flight. For its two test flights at Las Cruces International Airport, the pedals were replaced with solar panels, an electric motor, a high-performance battery, and a flight control system.  Even with all …

Aviation Week Recognizes CAFE Foundation’s Efforts

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

As noted in this blog. Dr. Brien Seeley, President of the CAFE Foundation, has been actively promoting the idea of a short to intermediate range Sky Taxi, a two-seat aerial vehicle that would carry its passengers safely from 420-foot runway “pocket airports” to other such runways at other urban and suburban settings, or even pockets situated within major airports.  The safety and utility promised by these electrically-powered aircraft would provide convenient, inexpensive trips for commuters who would enjoy TSA-free travel up to 500 miles at point-to-point speeds exceeding even private LearJets. Aviation Week recently noted efforts by John Langford, CEO of UAV specialist Aurora Flight Sciences, to achieve part of Dr. Seeley’s far-reaching goals with today’s technology.  As Graham Warwick …