Early this week many spectators at the Green Flight Challenge in Santa Rosa, California, had their first view of an electric airplane in flight.
After the weighing team rolled the Phoenix motorglider of Jim Lee and Jeff Shingleton from the hangar onto its impound location and completed initial weigh-ins for the remaining three aircraft, the airplanes were staged for the first flying event of the Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google.
With technical inspections and weighing completed, the four airplanes lined up to check their noise levels and their ability to clear an imaginary 50-foot barrier atop a cherry picker 2000 feet from the top of the number “9″ on runway 19 at Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport. As each aircraft rolled out to the takeoff point, the cluster of photographers under the cherry picker focused and waited for a green flag to fall.
All the aircraft cleared the 50-foot flag, and e-Genius was judged to be quietest of the entrants after it took a second run. Its first had been marred by the noise of a Cessna allowed to take off on an adjoining runway. Although sound level results have not been announced, it was noted that e-Genius, even with the intruding sound, was a whisper-quiet 4 decibels quieter than the nearest competitor, the Pipistrel G4. And even the Rotax-powered machines acquitted themselves admirably, being notably quieter than the more traditional light aircraft on the field.