On From Rabat – Solar Impulse Explores Morocco

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Solar Impulse took off from Rabat-Sale’ Airport this morning 08:07 a. m. local time, heading over Casablanca and Marrakesh on its way south to Quarzazate, where it is expected to land at 00:30 a. m. local time.   Considering early ground speeds under 15 kilometers per hour (about 9 miles per hour), headwinds are a major constraint.  Turbulence may also cause difficulties, the area having an average daily temperature in the high 90s and low 100s Fahrenheit. Quarzazate is a high desert city whose name in Arabic means “noiselessly,” probably reflecting the vast stillness of the surround desert.  Home to Atlas film studios, one of the largest in world, and setting, along with the desert and Atlas Mountains, for films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator, the area is also a prime solar-energy site for MASEN, the Moroccan solar agency and destination for the Solar Impulse. MASEN is on track to complete a solar farm at Quarzazate, along with four …

Solar Impulse Crosses Mediterranean, Joins Continents

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Waking up in the middle of the David Letterman show this morning, your editor stumbled into the computer room to check on the Solar Impulse trip to Morocco.  From the live Google Earth map shown on their web site, and the inset live video of Bertrand Piccard, all was well, and the giant solar-powered craft was sailing over surprisingly irregular terrain.  It just wasn’t the expected flat, featureless desert seen in countless films. Solar Impulse was probably still flying over Spain at that time, having taken off at 3:22 a. m. local time (5:22 coordinated universal time or Greenwich time) from Madrid’s Barajas Airport.    At 7:30 a. m. local time (Pacific Daylight Time – 4:30 UTC), Bertrand Piccard was crossing the narrow strip of sea between the Spain and Morocco and making his way along the Moroccan coastline, chatting happily with his daughter back in Payerne, Switzerland, the airplane’s home base. Solar Impulse attained 8,229 meters (27,000 feet) during the trip, and …

Solar Impulse Overnighter: 26 Hours Nine Minutes

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Andre’ Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of the Solar Impulse project, landed this morning at 9:00 a.m. (local tme) in Payerne, Switzerland, having completed the first-ever night flight on battery energy stored during the previous day through the craft’s solar cells.  Taking off at 6:51 a.m. July 7, Borschberg flew the 64-meter span, four-motor airplane in large patterns around the area, gaining altitude to a height of 8,564 meters (27,404 feet) above sea level and charging the batteries – all while running the motors at climb power. As night fell, he glided to preserve the stored power, ran the motors as needed to maintain altitude, and landed with a small reserve.  This successful demonstration of being able to run the motors on solar power while still charging the batteries means the project can go on to its next stages, spelled out in this morning’s press release “The success of this first night flight by a solar-powered plane is crucial for the further …

Solar Impulse All-Nighter July 1

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Solar Impulse is set to attempt its first night flight on Thursday, July 1, 2010. Weather conditions are “Favourable for attempting the first night flight on solar energy,” according to the Solar Impulse web site.   “The situation continues to look good and the likelihood of seeing the HB-SIA take off on July 1st and land back in the early morning 2nd July is increasingly probable.” The Solar Impulse team will confirm the date 24 hours before take-off time.  Only accredited journalists will be allowed on-site to witness the event, so don’t head for the Payerne, Switzerland airbase, but follow the flights on the Internet at the project’s special Night Flight web page at www.solarimpulse.com. These flights are crucial to the ongoing aim of flying a solo mission around the world in five hops, followed by the development of a two-seat version of the airplane that will enable a non-stop, around-the world solar flight.  This will hinge on the ability of the craft’s over …

A Swiss Swift

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

Editor’s note: Livio Mengotti sent this comment regarding Dr. Steve Morris’s Swift’s first  flights in California, under the pilotage of Brian Porter.  (See “A Manned Swift Takes Flight,” March 1, 2010.) The videos are self-explanatory and filled with technical detail. Based on the videos, Switzerland is filled with open fields and glorious vistas awaiting aerial exploitation. Compare Livio’s undercarriage and pilot accommodations with those of Morris’s craft and the pod on Manfred Ruhmer’s Swift conversion.  Note, also, that the motor is mounted on the front of the wing, instead of behind it, as on the other two examples.  Congratulations for your performance! I built an electric Swift too. I made two flights on April 2010. I can mount and remove the motor and the rechargeable battery with 5 bolts. So I can flight the Swift also without engine as a hang glider. All the best for the further development of your Swift Livio Mengotti

Solar Impulse to Begin Ground Testing

Dean Sigler Uncategorized Leave a Comment

The Solar Impulse team is ready to begin ground testing of the Airbus-size solar airplane at Dubendorf Airfield, near Zurich, Switzerland.  On October 19, the project’s engineering team handed the craft over to the flight test crew, headed by Swiss Astronaut Claude Nicollier.  First flights will be under the control of Markus Scherdel, a professional test pilot and aerodynamics engineer. Testing is scheduled, subject to weather, between November 2 and December 20, 2009. According to the project’s press release, testing will take place in three steps, beginning with a first exit from the hangar, with on-ground testing of all four (10 hp) electric motors and a thorough check of all aircraft systems. Step two will involve high-speed taxi runs, “testing the aircraft’s controllability in acceleration and deceleration.” Step three will involve actual flight tests, limited to “‘Flea hops’, just like the Wright Brothers in 1903!” After successful testing, “the aircraft will be transported to Payerne airfield (VD) where successive solar …