Green Flight Challenge – Day Two

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Monday morning, September 26, many of us had our first view of an electric airplane in flight.

After the weighing team rolled Jim Lee and Jeff Shingleton’s Phoenix motorglider from the hangar onto its impound location and completed initial weigh-ins for the remaining three aircraft, the airplanes were staged for the first flying event of the Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google.

With technical inspections and weighing completed, the four airplanes lined up to check their noise levels and their ability to clear an imaginary 50-foot barrier atop a cherry picker  2,000 feet from the top of the number “9” on runway 19 at Santa Rosa, California’s Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport.  As each aircraft rolled out to their takeoff point, the cluster of photographers under the cherry picker focused and waited for a green flag to fall at the takeoff point.

Top of flag marks 50-foot level

All the aircraft passed cleared the 50-foot flag, and e-Genius was judged to be quietest of the entrants after it took a second run.  Its first had been marred by the noise of a Cessna allowed to take off on an adjoining runway.  Although sound level results have not been announced, it was noted that e-Genius, even with the intruding sound, was a whisper-quiet 4 decibels quieter than the nearest competitor, the Pipistrel G4.  Even the Rotax-powered machines acquitted themselves admirably, being notably quieter than the more traditional light aircraft on the field.

As  Monday’s efforts came to a close, all competitors could be happy with their quiet, but high-performance machines.


Comments 1

    Millions and MILLIONS of dollars are spent EVERY year, rebuilding “WAR BIRDS” from the BIG (good) war, so that ol geezers like me can fly to EAA and schmooze with 300,000 “members” who love things that fly… and YES those planes (and all those Burt Rutan inspired home builts) fall out of the sky VERY regularly, killing military veterans, stunt pilots, and even spectators (ala the Reno-races)… yet THAT stuff is apparently considered sacred rear-view mirror thinking about the 20th century of flight. HELLO? ANYBODY SEE SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

    BUT when it comes to having university students and starving entrepreneurs propose new aircraft designs based on new fuels, new materials, new construction techniques, new market segments, new power schemes, new navigational approaches, new computerized flight control systems, new funding mechanisms, etc, etc, etc… the best that we can do is to burden, to the extreme, the research and development process with near psychotic attention to safety-paranoia and security-issues… demanding un-necessary parachutes, uncompromising contest rules, and ridiculously limited goals of demonstrated progress (noise, fuel consumption, etc). Dozens of electric powered aircraft concepts could NOT “compete” or even show up, and only ONE or two non-american built versions of european gliders have any chance of winning “prize money”… Thank YOU CAFE, you dudes did a great job… what has failed totally is the rest of this community to take this green challenge seriously… Something’s got to change.

    The future of 21st century aviation which is OBVIOUSLY to be hydrogen fueled (not battery), electric powered (not ICE), Vertical Take off (not even airported STOL), PERSONAL AIRCRAFT (not commercial and that can be inexpensive enough some day to replace the family SUV)… is NOT going to be found in these NAPA-SONOMA Valley airport competitions… IT IS TIME FOR MAJOR CORPORATIONS (other than GOOGLE THANK GOD) to aggressively fund research and development in consortium with dozens of new venture start ups and universities… All flight tested out at “AREA 512” 🙂 so that the FAA and OSHA and EPA and HSA and DOT and NTSB, and the IRS don’t have anything to say about it. OBAMA, is THIS the change you promised?

    Folks, let’s take this new age of aviation stuff seriously…. certainly the Chinese are…

    Lou Skriba, presenter, at the 2011 EAA, of an aircraft design concept for hydrogen fueled, Electric powered, VTOL PAVs… (which is still on the drawing board, given this country’s lack of interest in doing it right…) SHEESH

    (Editor’s Note: Lou, please stop being coy and let us know what you REALLY think. ((; } The parachutes were a good idea in this instance, as the loss of any aircraft or people would have darkened the general public’s perception of green aviation for a long time. Note that Pipistrel did this with its own funds, as did most of the teams. It would only take a few million dollars to field a fully-prepared flight vehicle and team, so from your mouth to Boeing’s or AeroVironment’s ears.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *