Reaching for the Sun

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

SolarStratos, a two-seat, solar-powered airplane, is being readied for record flights in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland, just a 25-minute drive from the Solar Impulse hangars in Payerne. Its makers claim that it is the first commercial solar two-seater aircraft in history, and will be the first solar-powered airplane with a pilot to enter the stratosphere.  These heady claims are described on the project’s web site as a “crazy bet,” but it’s too early to make such judgments.  Calin Gologan of PC-Aero GmbH designed the base craft, an expansion of his earlier ultralight electric aircraft, Elektra Two.  The “Record” version of this craft, despite SolarStratos’ extended 20-meter (65 feet, 7 inch) wingspan, weighs a feathery 140 kilograms (308 pounds) empty, and only 350 …

Green Flight Challenge Competitors Come Together on Perlan Project

Dean Sigler GFC 1 Comment

The Cafe Foundation’s Green Flight Challenge, scheduled for 2011, has drawn some impressive competitors with its $1.5 million prize.  Two of these, Greg Cole of Windward Performance, who will field a two-seat motorglider, and Einar Enevoldson, leader of the PC-Aero team, which will launch its Elektra One (see “PC-Aero’s Elektra One,” April 11, 2010), are working together quite collegially on a challenge of their own. Before his death in 2007, adventurer Steve Fossett, with co-pilot Enevoldson, had set the sailplane world altitude record in Perlan I, a modified Glaser-Dirks DG-500.  In a continuation of that ambitious adventure, Einar, Greg, and Project Manager Morgan Sandercock are creating Perlan II, a pressurized sailplane that will explore the realm of the nacreous, or …