A Weighty Matter

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Several readers have asked for the weights of the Green Flight Challenge competitors.  Here they are, pound for pound, among the most efficient flying machines on the planet. Those who wish can calculate different takes on that efficiency, including overall glide ratios for the course, ton-miles per gallon energy equivalent, or more exotic parameters.   Empty Weight Takeoff Weight in Competition   Pounds Pounds e-Genius 1670.2 2070.2 Pipistrel   G4 2491.0 3294.1 Embry-Riddle 1970.0 2370.0 Phoenix 754.0 1199.7  

Green Flight Challenge Winners

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Monday, October 3 was the second day of Nobel Prize announcements, but also marked the Green Flight Challenge Expo, sponsored by Google and staged under the control tower on Moffett Field, home of NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, California. The four airplanes that flew in the Challenge at Charles M. Schulz Sonoma Country Airport in Santa Rosa, California were joined by Greg Stevenson’s full-size mockup of his GFC design and a Pipistrel Virus that had won an earlier NASA/CAFE Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) Challenge.  Stevenson’s airplane was a reminder that there were numerous entrants that, for a variety of reasons, could not attend.  There is a huge number of aircraft in the wings, so to speak, that will fill these pages in the next months and years. 20 exhibitors showed off their visions of a greener future, and three rows of tents protected exhibitors and their displays from the rain that started mid-afternoon. At about 11:00 a.m., attendees were bussed to  Building …

Green Flight Challenge – Days Three and Five

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

As if in answer to the most fervent prayers by CAFE Foundation organizers, Tuesday, September 27 dawned as a bright, windless morning, perfect for the planned 200 -mile aerial trek that each of four teams would undertake in the Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google. Each would fly a large, tightly-followed out-and-return loop around the Sonoma Valley, reaching the radio tower array on the peaks north of Geyserville, then returning for one of three passes (the fourth being the descent to land) over the CAFE Foundation hangar at the west end of the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport.  Each would have to reach at least 4,000 feet at the end of a 17-mile climb and would need to track within one mile on either side of the Challenge course’s centerline.  Pilots would need to stay on the outside edge of turnpoints, but shave their margin to within one-half mile on each pylon-type turn. To help monitor that precise flying, Steve …

PhoEnix GFC Update

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Jim Lee’s informative and beautifully illustrated blog features “PhoEnix with the capital E in the middle,” the motorglider he will fly in the CAFE Green Flight Challenge in July.  Electrically powered with a Krall 44 motor, it has a pointy nose and retractable gear to make it more slippery than the already high-performance Phoenix without the capital E and with a mere Rotax behind the propeller. According to Lee, the 14.5 meter (47.57 feet) modified Schempp-Hirth Discus wing is raised above the low position of the gas-powered version to make room for the electrically-retracted gear, which hides in what was originally a luggage compartment – another change from the standard Phoenix. The wing is configured to win the GFC, as is the rest of the airplane.  Lee, the U. S. distributor for Phoenix Air, says in his blog, that “the PhoEnix is purpose built for a race. A race that offers big bucks for the winner, but with a bar set so …