A Tea Room in the Sky

Richard Glassock is an Australian graduate student and designer working in autonomous aircraft, long-distance sailboats, and a light hybrid power system made from off-the-shelf model aircraft components.  He’s even made a design study of something that would really cause a stir in the world of electric sailplanes.

Twin booms, twin motors, eight seats and an alluring design

“I just want to send you some pictures of a concept model I’m working on. The idea is for a 6- seat sailplane, I thought about this 10 or 15 years ago when I first started getting to cloudbase in a hang glider. It is a magical world, particularly in an open air type vehicle: wouldn’t it be wonderful to share with friends.  Now it seems to have turned out to be an 8-seat [sailplane with] twin electric propulsion. Somehow the canopy will stow for open top operations, while there is room for the bathroom, coffee machine, oven etc. Designed for cloudbase tea and scones [or a] gliding chess club with excellent views, [it would also make] a really great venue for corporate meetings… a way to stimulate creativity.

Imagine gliding silently to cloud base with seven of your best friends (there might be some wind noise)

“I realize the weight will present some trouble keeping it slow enough at a good sink rate, but there’s so often really good thermals and clouds, if only you can get there. Also we don’t want too much trouble towing, so I think it’s worth base-lining self-propulsion, so long as it is quiet and smooth. The booms are to house the motors’ batteries and series hybrid engine away from the cabin, and high to try to preserve the view. Electric fans have the nice feature of being able to easily mount on annular motors without gearing. The 42 meter (137 feet, 9 inches) wingspan will make it difficult to operate from small fields, but around here we have excellent soaring opportunities close to larger regional airfields like Kingaroy, and Coolangatta. I imagine this would be the case all over the world. The aerotow using something like a Caravan, would be only 10 minutes or so, then just a matter to  get to good thermal lift with the auxiliary motors, and with hybrid propulsion, there’d never be a need to outland.”

The configuration would lend itself to other, perhaps smaller, designs

The configuration may give inspiration to other designers, and the audacity of the idea is certainly full of high-flown hope.  Imagine such a vehicle used for children’s birthday parties, or wedding receptions, or royal coronations.  Imagination is a wonderful thing, and in this case, worthy of being made real.  Richard’s web site shows more of his far-reaching ideas.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • smarty 02/14/2013, 1:22 am

    You nutbag! That will never get off the ground – it has to be a bar in the sky. We all know that beer and flying is the perfect mix!

  • georges-daniel mercadal 02/14/2013, 4:44 am

    Its the future, all in the batteries – a chemical not mechanical technology

  • Klaus 03/17/2013, 5:43 am

    Hi Smarty,

    Give me just one good reason why you think that Richard’s construction will never get off the ground.
    Personally, I thinks it’s a great idea, very progressive and somehow futuristic, but not at all impossible!

    Rgds Klaus

    (Editor’s Note: Smarty’s comment may have been a ruse. Check the email address, which your editor should have done more carefully. Klaus administers the excellent ultralight sailplane site http://ul-segelflug.de/, a compendium of news about aircraft that would make great electrically-launched aerial vehicles.)

  • Danny van der Walle 01/17/2015, 2:15 pm

    Fantastic idea. Can’t wait to see it up and running.

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