Tehachapi Soars with New ideas

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Every year, Labor Day weekend brings sailplane enthusiasts to Jeff Byard’s hangar on Mountain Valley Airport above Tehachapi, California.  It’s a friendly get-together that always has challenges and surprises for the participants. History on the Field This year, attendees were treated to an opening talk by Jeff Byard titled “Soaring, Something for Everybody.”  It lived up to its name, with a review of sailplanes of all types, with many examples right in the presentation hangar. For history buffs, jeff’s hangar, and Doug Fronius’ a few doors away, offer a glimpse of every type of hand-made soaring machine, including Doug’s recreation of Waldo Waterman’s 1911 hang glider, something which has been flown over the California coast. Jeff’s collection includes a Slingsby …

Tehachapi 2013 – Baby Bowlus and Silent Electro

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Tehachapi is a one-time railroad stop, 4,000 feet in the high mountain desert near Mojave, California.  Trains don’t stop there very often these days, but multi-engined, two-mile-long bearers of cargo and commerce run over the tracks 50 times a day, making the long haul toward Bakersfield or Mojave. Hawley Bowlus helped build the Spirit of St. Louis and later taught the Lindberghs to fly sailplanes, with some lessons taking place in the high desert air above Tehachapi.  Today, the once bare hills are covered with over 5,000 wind turbines, their giant rotors pointed into the prevailing westerlies.  At the base of these hills, Mountain Valley Soaring has a base, and Jeff Byard has a hangar that hosts the annual meeting …

Albatross, Dragonflies, and Hummingbirds

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

Your editor took a trip to Tehachapi, once home of the infamous California Women’s’ Correctional Institution, mentioned in no less than three 1940’s films noirs.  (It’s now a gray-bar hotel for bad boys, not bad girls.)   Lesser offenses were in mind, though, since Labor Day weekend has been the time for 31 meetings of the Experimental Soaring Association’s Western Workshop.  The group, devoted to improving sailplanes and testing the limits of soaring technology, has been in the forefront of many significant developments, and its members include many record holders and aerodynamics experts. This year’s convocation included talks on birds, dragonflies (the Libelle sailplane), and even a demonstration of Aerovironment’s spy hummingbird, a camera-toting drone no larger than a 90-percentile member …