A Glorious Calendar
Eric and Irina Raymond, besides being skilled solar-powered airplane builders, designers, and pilots are also professional photographers. Their 2020 Solar Flight calendar highlights all those skills and provides historical background for their work. Besides that – it’s gorgeous.
With a baker’s dozen stunning color photos, and historical black-and-white archival images on the back of each month’s offering, the calendar is a nice blend of modern artistry and the chronicle of an eventful past. Did you know, for instance, that Eric flew the first solar-powered aircraft across America in 1990 – 23 years before Solar Impulse’s journey?
One episode on Eric’s blog is worthy of attention. “At my slow flying speed, I often flew in formation with flocks of birds. Nearing the Appalachian Mountains, I flew with the same three black birds two days in a row. They were still following me when I reached the highest part of the mountain range that I needed to cross. I decided the safest thing to do was to fly up through the clouds, so I could fly over the tops of all the clouds and mountains.
I switched on my simple blind flying instruments, but even with my head down, I noticed the three black birds, hovering just above and to the sides of my window. The thicker the cloud, the closer they stayed, but they never left, until we were in the clear again.”
Your editor learned from the calendar that Eric had flown from Munster Airport over the Alps on three days and topped the Matterhorn each day. Eric has mentioned elsewhere that was a childhood dream achieved.
Eric has a knack for crafting lightweight structures. Sunseeker 1 had a 45-foot span and a structural weight of 98 pounds. The 72.8-foot cantilever wing-span Duo has an empty weight of 638 pounds: compare that to a Continental 65-horsepower J3 Cub that weighed 766.5 pounds with a strut-braced 36-foot wing.
It’s fun seeing what Eric and Irina will come up with next. To help support their pioneering efforts, they are selling their calendars. Judging by the two previous offerings, the $32.50 (plus shipping) they ask for their 19.5 inch by 16 inch is a bargain, filled with images that can be framed.
Your editor has fun explaining the airplane and the flights its made to friends and family. If nothing else, the Raymonds’ calendar is a great conversation starter. People are fascinated by the airplane, and the photography. A common question from friends: how did they take that picture?
The last color image is the Sunseeker Duo in a sunlit sky of towering clouds, looking very much like a Christmas snow-globe. Maybe next year they can turn that into a real Christmas snow-globe.
(Note: Your editor works on a volunteer basis and has no financial interest in selling the Sunseeker calendar. It comes, though, with an unsolicited and enthusiastic endorsement from your editor.)