Sunseeker Duo Plays Among the Alps

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

Eric and Irena Raymond took a lovely Sunseeker Duo flight over the Italian alps near their home in Voghera and edited it all into a video.  They designed and built their own solar-powered airplane – Eric’s third.  He flew Sunseeker 1 across the US in 1990 in 21 hops.  A big press conference scheduled for his last landing at Kitty Hawk, NC was a big disappointment since the US invaded Kuwait that day. Six Minutes of Great Beauty Their airplane has solar cells arrayed across the wing and horizontal tail, a small battery pack that gets recharged while flying in the sun, and a 22 kilowatt (30 hp) motor on the tail.  Turning off the motor they can soar on …

Black-silicon Cell Efficiency above 130 Percent

Dean Sigler Announcements, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Aalto University in Espoo, Finland has announced a seemingly impossible breakthrough – black-silicon solar cells that exceed 100-percent efficiency.  This breaks the Shockley-Queisser limit, previously thought to be an unbreakable barrier to any solar cell generating more than 33.7-percent efficiency for a single p-n junction photovoltaic cell.  The 1,000 Watts of sunlight falling on a square meter of single-junction solar cells could never produce more than 337 Watts to a battery or other receiving mechanism.  William Shockley, a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics for his co-creation of the transistor and Hans-Joachim Queisser defined this limit at Shockley Semiconductor in 1961. In a traditional solid-state semiconductor such as silicon, a solar cell is made from two doped crystals.  One is an n-type semiconductor, which has extra free electrons, …

SolarStratos Announces First Solar Free Fall

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If you happen to be in Payerne, Switzerland tomorrow morning around 7:00 a. m. Tuesday morning, August 25, you might want to visit the local airport.  There, the SolarStratos team will stage a demonstration flight with a free fall parachute jump by the project’s founder. Miquel Iturmendi will pilot Raphael Domjan to an unspecified height, from which Domjan will depart the aircraft and free fall, open his parachute, and join the gathered throng.  Iturmendi will presumably return the airplane shortly thereafter. We’re not sure whether this flight will be available for Cockpit Virtuel viewing, but future expeditions should have that feature, much like the Perlan Project’s world altitude record ventures.   Iturmendi was co-pilot on one run to 65,000 feet. This …

Electrifly-In: A Big Show in a Small Space

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

For those of us who find trudging over miles of airfield, such as Oshkosh’s AirVenture, or even local fly-ins spread along a runway tiring, Grenchen, Switzerland’s Electrifly-In may be welcome relief.  The event, previously called the Smartflyer Challenge, is planned for September 12 and 13 and should draw electric aircraft from all over Europe. Grenchen, a town of just over 2,000, has an airport with a single runway of only 865 meters (2,838 feet), enough to enable a Cessna Citation CJ3 to land (and presumably depart).  The runway will host this year’s newly re-named Electrifly-In, devoted to promoting electric aviation.  All the activities will be held in a small, easily-accessible area. All Electric Aircraft – All Day A baker’s dozen …

Eric Raymond Shares a Vision

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Eric Raymond is a real pioneer in electric aviation.  Decades before Solar Impulse made its epic flights Eric navigated his solar-powered Sunseeker I across the United States in 21 hops, traveling from Desert Center, California to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. He flew over the Matterhorn on his way from Germany to Italy in Sunseeker II.  He and his wife Irena build the world’s first two-seat solar-powered airplane, the Duo, which they regularly fly over Italy and Switzerland.  He shared the promise and mystique of such flight with the readers of Travel Forward recently.   The Future is Electric: Exploring the World in a Two Seat Solar Powered Airplane MAY 18, 2020 BY TRAVEL FORWARD While Tesla and other car manufacturers are …

Solar Flight Calendar: Just in Time for the Holidays

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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 …

Sunseeker Duo – The Uniquely Big Picture

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

Unique People Eric Raymond was the first person to fly across the United States on solar power in 1990 in Sunseeker 1.  He was the first to fly on the sun’s rays over the Matterhorn in 2009 in Sunseeker 2. He and his wife Irena built the Sunseeker Duo and routinely fly it around northern Italy and over the Alps into Switzerland.  Eric has more hours piloting a solar-powered airplane than anyone, and Irena is probably the most experienced female solar pilot.  Only Bertrand Piccard and Andre’ Borschberg in the Solar Impulse would have anywhere need as much time at the controls.   Janice Brown, “a…former elementary school teacher” flew Paul MacCready’s Gossamer Penguin and Solar Challenger, even achieving a record …

Smartflyerchallenge – Europe’s First Fly-In for Electric Powered Aircraft

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Air meets have been an important part of aviation history, bringing pilots, planes nad the public together in a symbiotic gathering.  This was true in aviation’s genesis; things gaining a tremendous impetus with air meets throughout Europe and America following Wilbur Wright’s 1908 public demonstrations near Le Mans, France. René Maier, ex-Colonel of the Swiss Army and current President of the newly formed organization team for an annual event organized at the Grenchen Regional Airport, has announced the SmartFlyer Challenge, touted as the first fly-in for electric aircraft.  The event, to be held September 9 and 10, 2017, will make Grenchen “the center of electric flight,” according to the organizers.  Static and air displays of electric and hybrid-electric powered aircraft …

Boeing Adds Solar Winglets to Its Solar High-Flyer

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Despite having a wing, horizontal tail, and fuselage top full of solar cells, Solar Impulse 2 needs long days and short nights to make it through the dark periods between recharging.  Even Eric and Irena Raymond’s SunSeeker Duo, a more practical machine, performs only day-long flights so far. Part of this is the nature of sunlight and solar cells, both of which are limited in small areas.  Despite the fact that every hour, each square meter of the upper atmosphere receives 1.367kWh of solar energy, and National Geographic claims that “Every hour the sun beams onto Earth more than enough energy to satisfy global energy needs for an entire year,” it’s hard to harness that energy on a relatively small …

Second Sunseeker Duo Calendar Here

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Eric Raymond, designer and builder of three solar-powered aircraft, along with his wife Irena, take some pretty astonishing pictures.  They work from a unique aerial platform, the Sunseeker Duo they completed and now fly together.  Their travels and adventures are large-screen worthy, and they share them with their 2016 Calendar.  Eric explains. Dear Solar Flight and glider fans, We had the most amazing year ever flying the SUNSEEKER DUO here in Europe and we would love to share the vistas with you! Just now we are finishing our photo calendar in time for Christmas, and offering it for anyone’s gift to a pilot or themselves. Since our flight in the SUNSEEKER DUO to the Swiss Alps was very successful and …