Green Flight Challenge, The Main Event

CAFE Foundation Hangar Boss Mike Fenn waves the speed competition checkered flag.

Tuesday was a glorious, clear day, and one could see all the way to the peaks surrounding the Sonoma Valley. This was the day for the core event in the Green Flight Challenge, the test of whether an airplane could accomplish the primary goal of the competition, flying a 200 mile course in a precise way, maintaining a 100 mph or better average speed, and returning 200 passenger miles per gallon (or electrical equivalent) energy usage.

Truth to tell, there really isn't a lot to see other than the takeoffs of these spectacular airplanes, followed by two hours of waiting, during which they each fly over the airport four times, at at least 4000-foot altitude, and finally land at the end of their run. The tension of seeing whether there are any position changes, indicating that a faster airplane has overtaken a slower one, tends to provide some excitement, but the challenge of navigating the course and practicing the most precise flying skills can only be experienced by the pilots. Continue reading "Green Flight Challenge, The Main Event"

Green Flight Challenge, Opening Remarks

KITPLANES Columnist Dean Sigler will be blogging from the Green Flight Challenge this week. Herewith, his first report on the entrants that arrived on Sunday.

Pipistrel G4: two fuselages, four passenger and one big motor.

The Pipistrel G4, with its twin motorglider fuselages and wide center section, supports a 145 kilowatt (200 horsepower) motor. The two pods can carry four passengers, occupants of neither crew compartment being able to see the other because of the intruding motor housing. The propeller is an elegantly curved, laminated wood design able to absorb the horsepower (most powerful electric motor flying on any airplane) and transmit the power to the air relatively noiselessly. Continue reading "Green Flight Challenge, Opening Remarks"