From Ultralight Sailplanes to a Miniatur-Wunderland

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Your editor has several friends who lay claim to the appellation, “ferroequinologist,” (student of the iron horse), meaning they fancy miniature trains and the layouts that support them.  One friend helped construct a layout that takes up most of a good-sized building in Portland, Oregon – but even he would be dumbfounded by the massive installation in Hamburg, Germany – which includes an international airport in its midst that accounts for 180 takeoffs and landings per day and handles 1.2 million “passengers” per year. Blogmeister Klaus Burkhard oversees a wonderful web site based primarily on ultralight sailplanes.  His writings have alerted your editor to the twin-motor self-launching ultralight Holliday Obrecht and his compatriots are building at EAA Chapter 309 in …

A Two-motor Electric German Ultralight – Made in the USA

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

If you are young enough and in good physical condition, dragging a 100-pound ultralight airplane to the top of a hill and hopping off allows an incredibly low operating cost for a very green aviation experience.  As one gets older, this kind of flight is still attractive, but some form of landing gear or training wheels, and quite often, some form of motive power, become necessary. The German ULF-1 has been around for several years, prompting several builders to put their own distinct look on the vintage-looking sailplane.   In fact, over 40 of the microlift-capable craft have been built from plans supplied by designer Dieter Reich.  ULF-1 is a highly capable vehicle, with the longest flight so far lasting six …

Ring Around the Tail Boom

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Call it Kismet, but three aircraft builders in wide-spread locations have recently announced similar approaches to putting a pusher propeller on the tail boom of three different ultralight sailplanes.  Each enjoys the benefits of mounting a propeller on a rear portion of a pod-and-boom fuselage: streamlining the folded propeller into the wake of fuselage/wing junction, enabling use of a large propeller, and turning the prop slowly to get the greatest efficiency from a small motor. Moyes Tempest from Down Under “Bodex,” a pilot in Brisbane, Australia write, “A mate and I managed to acquire two old Moyes Tempests last year. Although they fly well for what they are, we wanted to see if it could be converted to electric in …

Klaus Burkhard and the Archaeopteryx

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Klaus Burkhard is a sailplane pilot exploiting the air currents over his native Germany in 120-kilogram (264-pound) ultralight machines (most of which weigh far less) – which may become a part of an increasingly electrified sport.  He wrote this to your editor in response to recent coverage of the electric version of a record-setting ultralight sailplane. “I just came over your interesting website, reading your blog about the Swiss Archaeopteryx, where you described the Archaeopteryx as a high-end hang-glider, publishing a picture from an older version in ‘open’ variety. “Of course the Archaeopteryx is classified as hang-glider in the OLC (on-line competition)  and also as Class-2 hang-glider within FAI-regulations, as it´s foot-launchable and foot-landable as well, both basic requirements for FAI …

The Electric Archaeopteryx

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Ruppert Composite has been flying the up-market Archaeopteryx for the last several years, with pilots hopping off hills in the highly efficient, advanced hang glider. Archaeopteryx is versatile, as shown in the video, and can be launched and retrieved in a variety of ways. Its 54 kilogram empty weight makes quite a load for even a fit enthusiast, though, and waiting around for a tow car or plane dampens even the most ardent longing to fly. To counter those objections Ruppert has designed a special electric drive. Working with Dr. Martin Hepperle, a well-known aerodynamicist specializing in model aircraft and low-Reynolds number flight; Leomotion, manufacturer of model airplane electric motors – some with internal planetary propeller speed reduction systems; and …