EAS IX: Tyler MacCready on Swarm Science

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

One of your editor’s favorite books is An Exaltation of Larks, James Lipton’s compilation of venereal terms (not what you think) for plurals of animals.  Squires who aspired to become knights had to learn over 100 such terms, according to Sir Walter Scott.  Terms of venery (references to animal flesh) include a school of fish, a litter of puppies, and a nest of vipers (going back to at least the King James version of St. Paul’s words). One lesser known term, a murmuration of starlings, relates to Tyler MacCready’s talk on how control of the Future Crowded Skies at EAS IX might mimic the flocks of birds we see swarming and precipitously changing directions in swooping formations. Obviously, the numbers …

EAS IX: Phil Barnes Double Header

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Phil Barnes, aviation consultant, opened each days’ sessions at this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium: on Friday with a talk on dynamic soaring as taught by the birds, and on Saturday on regenerative power to keep a dynamic soaring aircraft in perpetual flight without any outside energy source other than the sun. Phil has 31-years of experience in the performance analysis and computer modeling of aerospace vehicles and subsystems at Northrop Grumman. He has been to Antarctica twice to photograph and study the flight dynamics of the Albatross, lessons he applies to the ideals of dynamic soaring and energy retrieval in flight. His Friday morning talk, “How Flies the Albatross,” discussed the flight mechanics of dynamic soaring, that mode of maintaining …

Learning About Energy Regeneration from Birds

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Phil Barnes has one of the most fascinating web sites on the Internet, combining his aerodynamic expertise and love of soaring birds with his radical approach to staying up perpetually (or until the pilot grows exhausted).  Albatross, birds he’s studied for decades, soar along the tops of ocean waves, seeking food for themselves and their broods, often traveling thousands of miles before setting down.  They have the advantage of bifurcated brains, able to stay awake in one hemisphere of the brain while the other hemisphere nods off, a trait they share with dolphins. Would it be possible for humans to tap the energy in the air to soar for indefinite periods?  Could truly fuel-free flight be a reality?  Phil is …

On Wings of Waste

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is just one of several gyres that swirl in the world’s oceans, holding tiny bits of degraded plastic that threaten fish and sea birds. According to a new and ambitious project’s web site, there is hope for cleaning up the debris and turning it into a highly useful and prized commodity. The @Altitude project’s web site says, “Wings of Waste is the world’s 1st 100% recyclable plastic fuelled flight, piloted by Jeremy Rowsell. The flight route is Sydney to London, Spring/Summer 2012 (ETD October – now changed to early 2013), along the old barnstorming routes of the original United Kingdom/Australian air pioneers: Charles Kingsford-Smith, Amy Johnson and Bert Hinkler. Rowsell will fly a Diesel-powered Cessna …

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 …

Dynamic and Regenerative Soaring – Perpetual Energy in Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

Phil Barnes has an impressive set of credentials, and an even more impressive body of work.  Having seen three of his presentations at the Experimental Soaring Association’s Western Workshops, this writer can attest to the breadth and depth of his knowledge. According to his biography, “Phil Barnes has a Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Cal Poly Pomona and a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arizona. He has 25-years of experience in the performance analysis and computer modeling of aerospace vehicles and subsystems at Northrop Grumman. Phil has authored technical papers on aerodynamics, gears, and flight mechanics.” He now has his own web site, How Flies the Albatross, where readers can interact with the flight of …