Perlan,  Egrett,  and Airbus at Oshkosh

Dean Sigler Announcements, hydrogen, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Most Interesting Formation Flight at Oshkosh? Perlan 2, its Grob Egrett tow plane, and sponsor Airbus gave AirVenture 2022 attendees a glimpse of future records and promising technology.  Few people outside the Perlan Project have witnessed these two-planes flying in close formation, linked by a tow rope. Initial attempts to get Perlan to an altitude where it could catch high-level mountain waves were hampered by the relatively slow climb of the conventional high-wing craft. Because Einar Enevoldson, founder of the Project, had been a test pilot for the Grob aircraft works in Germany, he had reached a record altitude of 60,867 feet in their Stratos 2C, a twin-engine research craft powered by triple-supercharged Teledyne engines.  The Stratos is the highest …

SolarStratos Returns to Service

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

SolarStratos, a mission envisioned by Raphaël  Domjan and an airplane designed by Calin Gologan,  returns to the skies after suffering a literal break in its program in 2018. During a series of tests that put increasingly heavy loads on the wings, its left wing broke with what was called a “technical damage.”  This type of breakage during stress testing is not uncommon, especially on what are special machines such as SolarStratos and Solar Impulse.  Solar Impulse 2 suffered a similar break when its newly-designed wing was being tested.  As noted, this type of setback takes the team back to the drawing board, but also besets them with new reflections on their ongoing decisions.  If it were easy, everyone would be …

Perlan 2 Flies

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Perlan 2, the pressurized sailplane destined to attempt flights to the edge of space, made its first test hop Wednesday, September 23 at Redmond, Oregon.  It was towed to 5,000 feet above Redmond Municipal Airport, stayed aloft for about a half-hour, and alighted perfectly under the expert guidance of James (“Jim”) Payne, Chief Pilot for the Airbus-sponsored project.  Morgan Sandercock, Co-pilot and Project Manager, rode the back seat and had a turn at the controls. According to post-flight chat, James and Morgan found things to their liking, with everything, including the huge dive brakes, working as designed and as simulations predicted.  A video crew, on hand to capture the event, used a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter to follow Perlan 2 …

Reaching for the Sun

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

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 …

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 …