Three Years, 392 Entries, and About a Quarter-Million Words

Today marks the start of your editor’s fourth year of attempting to cover the exciting world of electric and alternative energy flight. In the last three years, the CAFE blog has seen the development of larger and more powerful motors, higher speeds, better batteries, and the promise of new technologies and serious investment by major players in this new realm.

At the same time, electric flight is still new enough to attract garage scientists and record seekers. We’ve seen electric aircraft top 200 mph and make it into international record books. We’ve seen solar-powered craft extending their wings around the world and alternative fuels extending the range of existing aircraft. A few stories in the wings will highlight possibilities that would have been almost unthinkable three years ago.  The Green Flight Challenge doubled the expected parameters of what we thought achievable less than five years ago, and there is no reason to think that progress will not accelerate in the future.

Your editor wants to thank those who read and more importantly, contribute to the ongoing dialogue. We have an amazing future before us, and the opportunity to redeem many of the problems that confront us. It’s nice to think that the creations that give us joy have the power to bring a new and better world for all.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Bill Bunting 10/21/2012, 2:52 pm

    Thanks, Dean, for yet another year of awe inspiring aviation content. Without this forum most of the process of growth and development of electric aircraft would pass into history undocumented, remembered only by a small hand full of people who were “there at the time”. I, for one, am hoping that you will be doing this vital service for a while yet into the future, Dean, as there is still a fair way to go before we have the totally serviceable PAV.

    PAV Score card:

    In the roadable division: the PH PAV has the most robust solution, with terrafugia coming in behind with a fully serviceable “conventional” solution.

    In the electric division: (off the top of my head) the CriCri has the speed ribbon while PC-Aero have the most polished design with range. Pipistrel hold the blue ribbon for pushing the envelope with all of range, payload, and efficiency. Boeings Enfica holds the ribbon for fuel cell solutions.

    In the solar powered division: Solar Impulse holds the blue ribbon while Sunseeker holds the individual achiever ribbon.

    In aerodynamic efficiency division: SynergyAircraft holds the ribbon pushing the envelope while NASA’s (MIA) Goldshmeid inspired PAV that we only get occasional glimpses of holds the intriguing ribbon.

    In the control systems field: MIT’s Robust Robotics Group’s autonomous flight demonstration holds the ribbon for proven future flight control solutions. NASA’s eCFI (electronic certified flight instuctor) holds the allusive ribbon.

    In the flapping wing flight division: The control system design team hold the blue ribbon with their Smart Bird and J Phillip Barnes holds the special mention ribbon for his How Flies The Albatross flight analysis http://www.howfliesthealbatross.com/

    Carter Aviation’s, Jay Carter, deserves a special medal for determined effort, sharing information, project completion, and commercial achievement with his slowed rotor 4X4 semi roadable PAV.

    What will the next 12 months bring us in development completions.

    I am hoping to see the Synergy Aircraft prototype flying. I am hoping to see some practical experiments to prove the micro air portal concept (how hard can that be, fence off a paddock somewhere and see what can be achieved safely), I am hopiing to see a lot more people commenting on the site, I am hoping to test my Aquabat fuselage design in a wind tunnel, I am really looking forward to PC-Aero’s 2 and 4 seater designs, and I am always excited by the achievements coming out of Pipistrel.

    So again,

    Thanks, to Dean Sigler.

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