Solar Impulse Breaks More Records, Attracts More Eyes

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

At 79 hours into the flight Flight Director Michi Anger let viewers on Solar Impulse’s web site know that the “U-turns” the airplane performed were to get the maximum amount of solar energy in the plane – “That’s why it looks as if we’re facing the wrong direction.” “André got a good amount of rest during the last 12 hours, but we had some problems finding calm air. André had 300m of resting periods but could only sleep for 170m. The autopilot is designed to function only in calm air so we had to wake André up from the MCC. This is a rude awakening for him so it made it more difficult for him to go back into sleep. “André passed 76h 45min of flight, breaking Steve Fossett’s 2006 record for the …

SolarStratos Construction to Begin in January

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Just as we have competing teams working out their plans to cross the Atlantic on electrically-powered wings, several projects are aiming high, attempting to reach altitudes normally achieved only by SR-71 pilots.  With balloon jumps topping 130,000 feet and the Perlan Project in final stages of construction for test flights early next year, the latest entrant in stratosphere-busting climbs will attempt the mission on batteries and solar power. Raphael Domjan, a self-described “eco-adventurer” and founder of Mission SolarStratos, will attempt by 2017 to top 80,000 feet in a two-seat, twin-motored craft designed and built by Calin Gologan and his PC-Aero team.  The airplane, a long-winged derivation of Gologan’s Elektra Two Solar, will rely on recent developments between Gologan and his …

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 …

24 Hours of LeMans – Hybrids, KERS and High Speeds

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

The 24 Hours of LeMans is the quintessential motorsports event every year, pitting the top automobile racing teams in the world against the endurance trial of completing a full day’s run at “full chat,” as the British used to say, overcoming weather, wear and tear, and competing drivers. Traditionally populated with internal-combustion gasoline engine powered racers in many sizes and classifications, the race has seen inroads with turbo-diesels, hybrids, and hints there may be soon full electric competitors.  The most advanced class this year comprised a collection of formerly exotic technologies, with a variety of approaches to going fast. The race’s official web site explains, “The LM P1 class (Le Mans Prototype 1) welcomes machines at the leading edge of …

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 …