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Solar Impulse 2 Arrives at Moffett Field

CAFE Field Trip - by John Palmerlee

CAFE received an invitation to the Solar Impulse 2 landing at Moffett field, and we decided to make it a field trip to support the effort and watch the landing slated for midnight on Saturday. The airplane was about to complete a three day non-stop flight from Hawaii on solar power alone.

Bruno Mombrinie and I (CAFE Board) and our EAS 2016 Coordinator Yolanka Wulff, left for the Marin Headlands at about 15:30 Saturday. Our plan was to get to the west end of the headlands road so we could see Solar Impulse when it first arrived sometime after 17:00.

There was moderate traffic at the headlands, making us think everyone had turned out to see the arrival. What else would anyone be thinking of today, anyway? Not. In the three hours we were there, only a handful of people knew about the event, so we shared the story with many.

Finding a parking spot was a stroke of luck, right on one of the last headland ridges with a great view of the Golden Gate and the entire Bay Area. Visibility must have been near 100 miles. We were high enough to be well above the bridge towers, and couldn't decide whether Solar Impulse would be above or below us when it passed. Turns out it was well above us at about 4,000 feet.

We first saw it over the ridge to the west - a long bent stick below the high clouds. Bertrand Piccard had flown for over 55 hours from Hawaii, but had another 7 to go before he would land. That's a long time to wait for winds to calm at your destination. A black dot nearby was a helicopter flown by the other Solar Impulse pilot Andr&?eacute; Borschberg, darting about the big plane as if it were a sparrow with a condor. Through the camera lens, I could watch the four propellers spinning - big, slow, efficient, two bladed props.

Impulse over Bodega Head Lookout

The purpose of this phase of the flight was to say a long "Hello" to the Bay Area, get some video footage of the plane over landmarks, and to wait for landing once the wind settled down. To us, it was all a treat. Bruno brought a long strip of black fabric and white duct tape, which we turned into a sign on the chance that Bertrand looked our way. The sign said "BIENVENUE BERTRAND" which means "Welcome Bertrand" in French (picture below). Solar Impulse passed over us many times, but we never learned if he actually saw the sign. There was a lot to look at from 4,000 feet, and he was dealing with constant direction from the MCC (Monaco Mission Control Center) and commands from local ATC; so it wasn't just sightseeing for him. Keep in mind he'd had less than 3 hours worth of 20 minute naps over the last 3 days. One must somehow stay alert on a flight almost twice the duration of Lindbergh's Atlantic crossing.

CAFE signs

At 20:00 we had to leave for check-in at the NASA Ames barracks. The campus is large, with many buildings in disrepair and a background of flight history everywhere: the blimp hangar skeleton under major repair, a NASA U-2 sitting on a ramp behind other unused aircraft.

Blimp hangar

The ramp security checked our names off a list and turned us loose with a group of a few hundred people consisting of Solar Impulse team members and the invited guests from public and government sectors.

Tesla was present as a sponsor, and provided Model S vehicles for the two pilots, Bertrand and Andr&?eacute;, for their week stay in SF. On Sunday (4-24) Bruce Nyden, the local Electric Auto Association president and Model S owner (yeah, the "other" EAA), said he came across a French speaking group in a new blue Model S P90D with factory plates near a local Bodega Bay chowder house. By his description, it appears that the driver was Bertrand Piccard - he was sitting with the driver's door open while fussing with the navigation system (yes, he's done his share of navigating :-). Bruce spoke with a woman getting out of the back seat and noted another woman in back met the description of Michelle, Bertrand's wife. Nice coincidence - interesting how electric vehicles attract electric vehicles.

The Solar impulse landing at Moffett was quite serene, except for a jet helicopter running up during the entire approach. I wished it wasn't there. Despite that, I got a video of the landing with my camera - looked like a UFO on approach with a full span array of landing lights (236 feet of them). There were 20 team members on the runway to grab the bird once it slowed from the landing, who then moved it under 'people power' off the runway to the waiting crowd. The main and tail wheels pivot completely so it can be towed sideways if needed, particularly for rolling into its inflatable hangar.

Inflatable hangar

After taking several minutes to regain his land legs, Bertrand spoke to the group. He said what a privilege it is to participate in this adventure, and how he hopes it will help everyone become explorers - to free themselves from the old ways of thinking and fear of the future. He hopes one day everyone can have an experience like this that changes the way they live. The following is an excerpt from his speech:

"...we would like other people to understand, that everybody can do the same, everybody can (thrive in) a world with clean technologies that protect the environment, that brings social peace, wealth to all the population. That if we want to fight poverty we have to give access to renewable energies."

Piccard invited everyone to "Go for it!" as explorers... to experience life as life is made for.

CAFE will be posting videos and images from the event on the web, and will announce when they are available. Solar Impulse has an extensive facebook presence you may want to check out:

The following is a brief list of Solar Impulse 2 specifications:

  • Crew: 1
  • Wingspan: 71.9 m (236 ft) - Length: 22.4 m (73.5 ft) - Height: 6.37 m (20.9 ft)
  • Solar Panels: 66 kW
  • Loaded weight: 2,300 kg (5,100 lb)
  • Powerplants: 4 x 13 kW motors (17 hp each)
  • Propellers: 4 m (13.1 ft)
  • Batteries: 4 x 41 kWh lithium-ion batteries (633 kg total)
  • Cruise Speed: about 30 knots (depends on flight phase)

Piccard Exits Impulse

CAFE Foundation announces expanded strategic vision

The CAFE Foundation is excited to present its [Strategic Concept Statement].

As electric aviation has developed over the last decade, so too the CAFE Foundation has focused its efforts on this burgeoning industry. Now, the CAFE Foundation is pleased to announce its restated mission:

To advance the development of low-emission flight by fostering and promoting early entry practical market opportunities.

CAFE occupies a unique position in the electric aircraft industry. As an independent nonprofit organization, CAFE is able to achieve its mission by bridging disciplines and industries, helping to identify trends and innovations, building strategic collaborations and ensuring on-going coordination. The CAFE Foundation has identified three key areas where it will focus its contributions to this industry:
  1. Promoting the commercial implementation of cutting-edge technologies needed to achieve near-term practical electric flight.
  2. Facilitating the communications, strategies and market opportunities that support the industry's growth and success.
  3. Assisting in obtaining regulatory and funding support for the industry.
The full CAFE Foundation Strategic Concept Statement can be read [here].

Change in leadership at CAFE Foundation

Dr. Brien Seeley has tendered his resignation as President and Board Member of CAFE Foundation.

CAFE Foundation thanks Brien for his 34 years of leadership and wishes him continued success in his new aviation endeavors. We are confident that his boundless energy and inspiration will cause great new projects to take shape and blossom under his stewardship.

2015 PADA Awards Dinner

The 2015 Personal Aircraft Design Academy will feature two excellent presentations: Burt Rutan on the SkiGull and Nick Borer on the LEAPTECH project. This will be followed by the ceremony to award the esteemed PADA Trophy to a surprise recipient. A reservations-only $20 hors d'oeuvre pre-reception at 6:15 PM on July 24 in the EAA Museum's Fergus Plaza will provide an excellent opportunity to meet with aviation's top personal aircraft designers.

EAS 2015 A Huge Success

On May 1, 2, 2015, the world’s leading converged for the 9th Annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium in the beautiful Sonoma Wine Country. The presenters included:

  • Airbus on “The e-Fan Design”
  • Italy’s Eric Raymond of GFC I Team-eGenius on “Sunstar and the SunSeeker Duo”
  • Slovenia’s Tine Tomazic of GFC I Team Pipistrel USA on “Converting GA Aircraft to Electric Propulsion”
  • UCR’s Zach Favors on “Beach Sand for Long Cycle Life Li-ion Batteries”
  • Northrop-Grumman’s J. Philip Barnes on “Regenerative Electric Flight”

Other presenters included Northrop-Grumman’s Barnaby Wainfan on “Low Aspect Ratio Electric Aircraft”, Scott Sevcik of Stratasys on “ Additive Manufacturing in Aerospace”, Dr. Yi Cui of Stanford on "Materials Design for Battery Breakthroughs: from Fundamental Science to Commercialization", and Michael Meador, Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office at OSTP.

View the full program and speaker list

PADA 2014 Awards Dinner


PADA is the Personal Aircraft Design Academy, an annual colloquium for leading aircraft designers, enthusiasts and aero engineers. Each year, PADA awards what many now consider to be the highest honor in personal aircraft design, the PADA Trophy. For 2014, PADA will reveal and honor the Trophy's 12th recipient in a special ceremony. The 2014 PADA presentation program will feature two exciting new aircraft: Richard Hogan from Commutercraft will present “The Innovator—a New 3-surface Aircraft” and Oliver Garrow will present the technical details of a new tilt-wing VTOL aircraft—the Elytron.

Read more about the history of PADA


EAS VIII an Event to Remember

The 2014 CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium was our best event yet with excellent presentations by all involved and great attendance. Our thanks go out to presenters and attendees alike for a lively discussion of this rapidly expanding domain.

Historic CAFE 400 Video Released


In advance of the CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium we are proud to share an historic video from the CAFE Archive. This 47 minute video shows CAFE's first tech prizes – The CAFE 400 races, which were conducted from 1981 to 1990 at the Santa Rosa Air Center.

These 400 mile flight competitions were scored according to the CAFE Formula of Speed x MPG x Payload and attracted most of the famous aircraft designers from the world of EAA. It is amazing to see how many of their innovations were incorporated into GA aircraft of today. Nearly 50 aircraft competed including Roy LoPresti's factory team from Mooney, Burt and Dick Rutan, Mike Melvill, Tom Hamilton, Gene Sheehan and the perennial winner, Gary Hertzler. The event demanded astute navigation and power management in addition to fastidious preparation of engine and airframe. In the 10 years of CAFE 400 racing, there was never an injury or serious accident."

Updated Green Flight Challenge Info on NASA Website

AOPANASA has updated their page about the Green Flight Challenge, complete with video and photos from the historic event.

Highlights from the Green Flight Challenge from NASA video are also online.

CAFE at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Aviation 2013 Conference

The CAFE Foundation's Sky Taxi concept continues to grow support after being presented at the National AIAA Conference in Los Angeles. Imagine a new mode of travel that is cheaper and safer than a car and 4X faster, can take you anywhere within a 400 mile radius, is immune to gridlock and DOES NOT NEED ROADS.

8th Annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium
April 25, 26, 2014 - Call for Papers

The CAFE Foundation is accepting presentation proposals for the 8th Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium, to be held April 25- 26, 2014 in Santa Rosa, California. This international graduate level program will cover a comprehensive range of topics and will emphasize the latest breakthroughs in the rapidly growing domain of electric powered aircraft. Faculty and attendees will include experts from leading aerospace, electronic and energy companies. Topics will include aerodynamics, motors, energy storage, energy harvesting, control systems, recreational aircraft, propulsion, robotics, avionics, airspace integration, manufacturing, business cases and airport land uses.

Interested parties should email inquiries and abstracts to:

EAS VII Coverage in AOPA

AOPA Online has a nice writeup of this year's EAS proceedings. Please check out the article for a good overview of speakers and topics. As the article claims "In the seven years since EAS I, electric aircraft have set records and crossed frontiers."

EAS VII is Here!

The 7th Annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium begins tomorrow. Welcome to all who have come to participate in this gathering of experts. Key enabling technologies will be discussed, including a special slick new aircraft coating, battery management systems, and an ingenious propeller safety device. Several major aerospace companies will be attending as this exciting new domain of aviation takes flight.

CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium 2013

The 7th Annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium Final Program has just been posted. It has added even more key enabling technologies, including a special slick new aircraft coating, battery management systems, and an ingenious propeller safety device. Several major aerospace companies will be attending as this exciting new domain of aviation takes flight.

Please register for EAS 2013 here.

CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium 2013 Announced

The 7th Annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium (EAS VII), April 26, 27 of 2013 is delighted to confirm several outanding presenters. Headlining EAS VII will be NASA Chief Scientist Dennis Bushnell on "Frontiers of Exotic Energetics", Pipistrel's Tine Tomazic on "Hybrid Panthera" and the "Ideal Electric Trainer" and photovoltaic breakthrough developer Dr. Loren Kaake of UC Santa Barbara. Also invited are Eric Raymond's new SunSeeker Duo, battery breakthrough experts Dr. Winfried Wilcke of IBM Labs and Sibani Lisa Biswal of Rice University, along with Adam Bry and his amazing self-flying autonomous aircraft.

The final program is available now,

Please register for EAS 2013 here.

Coverage of EAS VI Highlights Future GFCs

Dr. SeeleyAOPA online has a good article covering EAS VI developments as well as CAFE's future GFC initiatives.




The CAFE Electric Aircraft Charging Station


Dr. Jack Langelaan Discusses E-Flight at TEDx


Astounding Final Results from the Green Flight Challenge Sponsored by Google

The 2011 Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google marks an historic achievement in aviation—the first demonstration of practical, cross-country emission-free flight. Team’s winning 4 seat, electric-powered aircraft, the Taurus G4, flew nearly 200 miles non-stop while achieving 403.5 passenger MPG! Its astounding efficiency was more than twice that of the piston-powered aircraft in the competition. Equally promising: Team e-Genius won the Lindbergh Prize for Quietest Aircraft, with a peak take off noise of just 59.5 dBA at a 250 foot sideline. This achievement heralds the real transformative potential unique to electric powered aircraft—the capability to be quiet enough to land very near dwellings and businesses.

Years from now, these first Green Flight Challenge team members will be recognized as the pioneers of the Age of Electric Flight. CAFE is already discussing plans for GFC II and will publish more on that here soon.

The complete CAFE results for the 2011 Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google.

Thanks to Everyone Who Made the Green Flight Challenge Happen!

The CAFE Foundation wishes to thank all of their sponsors, partners and volunteers for making this historic competition happen. Together we have achieved something great and the future for Green Flight looks bright!

The Google Green Flight Challenge Exposition hosted by NASA

The Google Green Flight Challenge Exposition hosted by NASA on October 3, 2011 saw all of the special aircraft that competed in the challenge on display at Moffett Field. Nearly 20 leading green aviation technology exhibitors showed their products and ideas in the tent tech faire nearby the aircraft ramp.

NASA's Chief Technologist Joe Parrish presided at NASA TV's 30 minute Awards Ceremony inside the NASA Ames Conference Center, where he awarded the NASA prizes of $120,000 for Eric Raymond, leader of the 2nd Place Team e-Genius, and $1,350,000 for Jack W. Langelaan, leader of the 1st Place Team The ceremony included sponsor Google representative Anita Yuen expressing Google's commitment to green technologies and concluded with the unveiling of the beautiful CAFE Green Flight Challenge Trophy designed by Ralph Carlson (pictured).


Jack W. Langelaan, leader of the 1st Place Team poses with
the CAFE Green Flight Challenge Trophy

Google to sponsor Green Flight Challenge

CAFE announced today that Google will sponsor the Green Flight Challenge set for September 25 through Monday October 3, 2011. Tickets for attending the Google Green Flight Challenge Exposition hosted by NASA at Moffett Field will soon be available through a link on this site.

EAS V Marks a New Milestone
for Electric Flight

The 5th Annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium on April 29-30 saw experts from around the globe bring forth the latest in energy storage, motors, quiet propellers, automated flight controls and STOL technologies to the large audience of enthusiastic attendees. The overall effect was a clear affirmation that the Age of Electric Flight is officially underway, highlighted by Dr. Larry Ford’s debut presentation of the aircraft of the Green Flight Challenge. Intense networking took place both during the meeting as well as during its theme dinners, with scientists exchanging business cards and suppliers hooking up with customers. Extensive coverage of the EAS V is available at The CAFE Blog.

CAFE Presentation at NASA Langley

Dr. Seeley and Bolden

Dr. Seeley speaks at the Langley Research Center

CAFE President Brien A. Seeley was chosen to deliver a scientific colloquium to leaders and engineers at NASA Langley on May 4, 2010. The lecture was well-received and prompted much discussion. Check out NASA's coverage of the event.





NASA Recognizes CAFE for Green Flight Challenge Efforts

Dr. Seeley and Bolden

Dr. Seeley receives and award on behalf of the CAFE Foundation from NASA Chief Charles Bolden

NASA's Chief, Administrator Charles Bolden, recognized the CAFE Foundation for its pioneering work in organizing the Centennial Challenges for Aeronautics and the 2011 Green Flight Challenge. Bolden delivered an inspiring message about plans to increase NASA's funding for future Centennial Challenge technology prizes. The ceremony followed the previous day's Technical Symposium at which CAFE President Dr. Brien A. Seeley presented CAFE's history and progress on the Green Flight Challenge.



CAFE Foundation Launches Blog Effort

The CAFE Foundation Blog is now live! CAFE is extremely pleased to welcome Dean Sigler, a presenter from the faculty of the Electric Aircraft Symposium, as the new editor-in-chief of the CAFE Foundation Blog.

CAFE is launching the blog as an online resource for discussion of news, technology developments, and issues central to contemporary GA and future avaition initiatives.  In addition the blog will serve as a discussion area for CAFE's Green Flight Challenge.  With Dean's help, we anticipate this to be a very active and valuable resource.

Green Flight Challenge Goes Live!

NASA and CAFE Make Official Announcement at AirVenture 2009

The NASA Innovative Partnerships Program and the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation today announced the Green Flight Challenge (CGFC), a flight efficiency competition for aircraft that can average at least 100 mph on a 200-mile flight while achieving greater than 200 passenger miles-per-gallon.  The prize for the aircraft with the best performance will be $1.5 million. This is the largest prize ever offered for a general aviation competition. A $150,000 prize for best score by a bio-fueled aircraft is also offered.


Mark Moore, Brien Seeley and Andy Petro announce the GFC at EAA Airventure 2009
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The competition is slated for Summer 2011 at Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, California.  A variety of innovative experimental aircraft that fly with either electricity, solar, bio-fuel or hybrid propulsion are expected to enter.  Several major universities and EAA aircraft builders have already expressed their intention to form teams to compete.  The competition is now officially accepting entrants at To enter, please download the complete rules kit.


NASA Ames Workshop

NASA Aeronautics focuses on Green Technology

NASA Ames Research Center Chief Scientist, Stephanie Langhoff, invited CAFE Foundation President Brien A. Seeley M.D. to join a select panel of NASA and industry experts at NASA’s April 25, 26 workshop on making aviation greener. Bio-fuels, renewable energy and electric powered flight were main topics. Dr. Seeley presented the CAFE/NASA plans for a 2011 flight competition to stimulate these technologies.

CAFE posts FAA Guidelines for Field of View

Key guide document for Green Flight Challenge posted

To qualify for the Green Flight Challenge, all teams must fulfill the guidelines for Field of View for pilot and co-pilot as described in FAA.AC25.773-1 [pdf, 410 kb].

Goldschmied Propulsion Papers Now Available


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The CAFE Foundation is very pleased to offer a new array of important reports on extreme body drag reduction in its CAFE Technology Library. These reports include work on Goldschmied propulsion that should prove valuable to any team planning to compete in the NASA Centennial Challenge flight competition.

Hydrogenius Team to Present at EAS 2009


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CAFE has just arranged for Len Scumann and Steffen Geinitz from the University of Stuttgart, Germany to come to EAS III to present their exciting work on the new Hydrogenius fuel cell 2 seat aircraft.





Dr. Seeley Contributes to Discover Magazine

Dr. Seeley is quoted in a Discover article about the future of personal travel (in all forms) and promotes NASA's work on PAV and SATS.

CAFE visits Stanford's DARPA Challenge Vehicle


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By invitation, CAFE officials made a special visit to Stanford's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory to explore its advanced work in pilotless vehicles. Stanford's Adam Coates and Michael Montemerlo hosted the visit, which included a look at the sensors, hardware and software that enable Stanford's autonomous helicopter and DARPA Challenge Car to pilot themselves.


A short drive around campus in the car revealed its amazing real-time capabilities to detect and avoid obstacles. CAFE believes that such capabilities, when applied to personal aircraft, will greatly enhance their safety and consumer popularity.




CAFE Visits NASA Dryden


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The CAFE team made a special visit to meet with Dryden flight test engineers on August 29, 2008. Dryden's team were shown and briefed on CAFE's flight test equipment. The meeting included discussions about best practices for testing noise, airspeed and temperature, mitigating air mass effects, and ruggedizing flight test hardware. After the meetings, the CAFE team was given an insider's tour of Dryden's facility and specialized aircraft, including a turn at flying the amazing F-18 simulator.








2008 NASA GAT Challenge Press Release

Santa Rosa, California: The five teams competing in the $300,000 NASA-funded General Aviation Technology Challenge were announced today by the host flight test agency, the non-profit CAFE Foundation. The aircraft represent an interesting array; all are aircraft with 2 seats side-by-side and four of the five are popular Light Sport Aircraft (LSA). One will fly on bio-diesel fuel. The main prize in this year’s event is for aircraft with exceptionally low community noise emissions.

The flight competition will be staged at the CAFE Flight Test Center at Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport beginning on August 5, 2008 and conclude with a cross-country “Green Prize” race on Saturday August 9. The five teams are:

  1. “Team Pipistrel” flying a Pipistrel Virus 912, team leader Frank Vance Turner
  2. “Team Aerochia” flying a modified Diamond DA20-A1, team leader Geoff Stevenson
  3. “Team Wilkinson Aero Sport” flying a Dynamic WT9, team leader Neil Wilkinson
  4. “Team Lambada” flying a UFM-13 Lambada, team leader John A. Dunham
  5. “Team Flight Refine”, flying a Flight Design CT, team leader John Robert “Bob” Basham

The competition will use CAFE’s highly accurate flight test equipment to measure aircraft performance, handling, fuel economy and noise. Skilled volunteers from EAA Chapter 124 make the event possible. A static display of the winning aircraft and their scores will be open and free to the public at Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport’s CAFE Foundation Flight Test Center on August 10 from 9 AM to 1 PM. For further details please email:

The CAFE Foundation, of Santa Rosa, California, creates and shares understanding of personal aircraft technologies by careful measurement and analysis of aircraft performance. It is a 501c3 educational organization with a 27 year history of flight testing small personal aircraft. CAFE was selected by NASA to conduct the annual aeronautical competition as part of the Centennial Challenges program. A complete history is found at:

2008 NASA GAT Challenge Date Change

The CAFE Foundation has changed the registration/arrival/check-in date for the 2008 GAT Challenge so that teams will be allowed to arrive and register until 8 PM on Monday August 4, rather than August 3. This change was deemed necessary to accommodate those who are attending the final day of EAA's AirVenture event in Oshkosh (August 3, 2008).

$50,000 Handling Qualities Prize Detailed

The 2008 Aviation Safety Prize (ASP) will award $50,000 to the one
aircraft judged to have the best handling qualities among those
entered in the 2008 NASA PAV Challenge. CAFE has only a few entry
slots available for homebuilt, certificated or Light Sport Aircraft
to compete for this winner-take-all prize. Teams must complete their
entry application before June 1 in order to save $1000 in
registration. Final entry deadline is July 1. The ASP is primarily
based on good flying qualities but includes bonus scoring for
aircraft whose flight controls include "eCFI" or electronic pilot
assistance. 'This prize is large enough to actually buy someone their
own LSA', says CAFE President Brien Seeley. For more information please read the details of the ASP. Full rules for the 2008 PAV Challenge are available now.

2008 Electric Aircraft Symposium

The CAFE Foundation's 2nd Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium saw presentations that justify the rapidly increasing interest in Green personal air travel. Sponsored by Foundation Capital, the April 26, 2008 meeting assembled an outstanding faculty to discuss the many aspects of electric-powered flight. It included an remarkable announcement by the Experimental Aircraft Association that it has filed a request for the FAA to allow electric propulsion in low cost aircraft.Learn more about this event.

2008 GAT Challenge Announced

CAFE is proud to announce the 2008 flight competition successor to the PAV Centennial Challenge. The new competition embodies many important goals for the future of general aviation and is consequently named the General Aviation Technology Challenge. Learn more about this event.

FAQs for GAT Racers

In response to a flurry of inquiries about the rules for the GAT Challenge and how LSAs are affected, CAFE has posted these responses as FAQs.

UC Davis Grads Look at PAVs

Aeronautical engineering grads at UC Davis today received a lecture by CAFE President Brien A. Seeley M.D. about the opportunity for university teams partnering with members of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) to design and build aircraft to participate in the NASA GAT Challenge flight competition. Their professor, Dr. c.p. van Dam, concluded the lecture by asking the students to return to class with an aircraft design that could fit the Challenge. Teams from other leading university programs in aeronautical engineering are expected to enter the flight competition with guidance and airframes co-built by EAA aircraft builders.

ePAVs?: Lockheed and eeStor Ultracap Deal

A strong vote of confidence for the promise of ultracapacitor use in transportation was given by Lockheed's plan to buy the new ultracapacitors developed by eeStor of Texas. Ultracapacitors offer very high density storage of electrical power. This could allow several hundred mile range for electric-powered PAVs. Details are available here. Lockheed's official PR is available here.

Boeing + NASA Affirm Biofuels

An authoritative 8-page white paper on alternative fuels for use in aviation recently created by Boeing and NASA. The report cites many possible fuels, but concludes that algae biofuel is the "most attractive" alternative for mid-term sustainable mobility. Anyone interested in aviation's future in the face of concerns about Greenhouse Gas emissions and dwindling oil supplies, along with our need for a more distributed air transportation system, should read this paper.

PAV Engines List

CAFE has posted a partial list of established engine manufacturers and their websites. This list is intended to help teams preparing for the General Aviation Technology Challenge. See the list here.

The “First A” in NASA

NASA has produced a movie demonstrating the variety of aeronautics research currently underway in their programs. See the move here.

Remembering Dr. Paul MacCready

Dr. Paul MacCready"The passing of the visionary Paul MacCready is a great loss to all of us at CAFE, everyone in aviation and all who ever dreamed of flying. I had the great pleasure of getting to know Paul these last 2 years during his avid support for CAFE's PAV Challenge. Just from the brief time shared when he and his son, Tyler, stayed at our home one night, , I recognized that Paul was truly a Galileo of our time. He had that magical combination of wonder, humor, experience, obsession, dedication and determination that make for heroes.

Paul believed that daydreaming was his most productive activity. He understood the value of an open mind and revered the concept of doing more with less. Paul greatly facilitated CAFE's production of the short film "Race to the Future" about PAVs. CAFE was deeply honored that Paul agreed to serve as keynote speaker at the First Ever Electric Aircraft Symposium on May 23, 2007 in San Francisco. We will all miss him dearly."

- Brien Seeley, CAFE President

CAFE Foundation President Brien Seeley Presents at SAE Conference


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CAFE Foundation President, Dr. Brien Seeley, 2nd from left, was among the speakers at the SAE International Aerotech Conference on Flying Cars, held in Los Angeles on September 29, 2007. Also pictured from left to right, are Mark Moore (NASA Langley), Samuel Schweighart (Terrafugia), Paul Moller (Moller International), Jamey Jacob (Oaklahoma State Univ), Palmer Stiles (author, Flying Cars), Richard Strong (Safety Analysis Systems Co.) and Branko Sarh (Boeing Co.) The meeting demonstrated strong support for applying the newest technologies to flying car development. CAFE is currently considering how to integrate flying cars and roadable aircraft into the PAV Challenge.

Noise-reducing Windows

Discovery Channel Online reports about a new noise-reducing glass technology. The proposed system works by placing small sensors and vibration generators within the glass material creating an active noise cancelling system that can reduce a 100 decibel noise in half. [Link]

2007 PAV Challenge Results Posted

Results, photos and a summary of the 2007 NASA PAV Challenge are now available.

LSA Owners: Last Chance To Win NASA's
$250,000 Cash Prize

The CAFE Foundation has just learned that 3 of the teams officially entered for the 2007 $250,000 NASA PAV Challenge have withdrawn from the flight competition for LSAs. This opens 3 slots for other teams to enter the August 2007 event. Teams wishing to enter must contact the CAFE Foundation immediately in order to complete their application for the event. Please see the full contest rules for more information.

Boeing Phantom Works to support CAFE Foundation’s PAV Flight Testing

Boeing Phantom Works, Boeing’s advanced research and development organization, is providing financial support for the non-profit CAFE Foundation flight research program for small, environmentally-progressive Personal Air Vehicles (PAVs). CAFE (Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency, est. 1981) was chosen by NASA as the official flight test agency to conduct the annual NASA Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) Centennial Challenge, a $2M flight competition that rewards innovations in fuel efficiency, noise reduction, ease of use, speed and short runway capabilities.

Boeing support will help enable CAFE to create and use an advanced suite of new flight test hardware and software to measure the performance of competing PAVs. NASA’s vision is for PAVs to complement the NextGen air transportation system by offering consumer-attractive, on-demand air travel for short range trips. Future PAVs may include conventional takeoff vehicles driveable on highways, vertical takeoff vehicles and solar/electric powered emission-free aircraft.

CNN Coverage of the PAV Challenge

CAFE President Brien Seeley discussed the importance of the NASA PAV Challenge in a 5 minute interview with Jack Hanson of CNN Headline News. The interview includes edited clips of NASA animations showing synthetic vision as a key enabler of PAV operation and is being aired several times on CNN in early July 2007

CAFE Foundation hosts the First Ever Electric Aircraft Symposium

CAFE Foundation President Brien Seeley chaired The First Ever Electric Aircraft Symposium in San Francisco on May 23, 2007. Practical Zero Emissions Electric Powered PAVs that can fly hundreds of miles non-stop may become possible with advances in batteries, solar capture, high lift to drag ratios and nano structures. Driving the discussion was Professor Richard Heinberg's presentation on "The Challenge of Peak Oil." The Agenda for the meeting included the great Dr. Paul MacCready as well as leading experts in the field from NASA, Boeing, Ricardo and GSE. The talks focused on why and how electric powered PAVs will become important and valuable in the future.

The complete meeting agenda and PowerPoint presentations are available here.

The UberBarograph

CAFE engineers Steve Williams and Scott Nevin are volunteering their expert design talent to create 2 exciting new flight test innovations for the NASA PAV Challenge. One is a state-of-the-art new “UberBarograph” that will have much greater processing speed, signal averaging capability and memory than the already exemplary CAFE Barograph. It will also incorporate an improved graphic user interface, faster responding temp sensor and wireless signal output capability.

The UberBarograph will wirelessly send its data from its strap-on wingtip mount to the cockpit “BlueBox”, a new electronic data receiver/compiler/transmitter designed expressly for the NASA PAV Challenge. The BlueBox will be able to send multiple channels of data by telemetry from the aircraft being tested to the CAFE Flight Test Center. Its range of several miles will allow the CAFE team to get near-instant results of how the competing PAVs are performing.

Boeing Phantom Works chooses Dr. Seeley as Speaker

Leaders at Boeing Phantom Works have asked CAFE President Dr. Brien Seeley to be one of several keynote speakers at the SAE General Aviation Technology Conference in Los Angeles in September. Dr. Seeley will present a lecture entitled, “Progress in PAVs”, with an emphasis on the enabling technologies of flying cars.

CAFE Foundation's PAV Challenge webpage gets hot!

In a good-news/bad-news development, the number of hits on the CAFE web-page has exploded in popularity. This caused our site to exceed its GB traffic limit and incur extra charges. The interest level is so high that CAFE was forced to remove its very popular romantic movie, “Race to the Future” from the site. It will be made available soon by other means. The burgeoning interest in PAVs coincides with rising fuel prices, longer airline delays, and growing interest in alternative fueled vehicles.

New NASA PAV Challenge rules posted

A number of updates, changes and clarifications have been added to the PAV Challenge rules posted [here]. The changes , now officially approved by NASA HQ, make the rules more inclusive and close some loop-holes that were identified by our rules-sleuthing teams. The detailed event outline is soon to be posted here, and this will spell out the exact sequence and flight test preparation stages for each of the pentathlon events that comprise the PAV Challenge.

Air Force will lead in bio-fuel conversion

CAFE's Dr. Brien Seeley was selected to be among 100 aerospace leaders attending SAE's Aerospace in the News Symposium in San Diego on March 15. There, Brigadier General Charles R. Davis announced that the Secretary of the US Air Force has issued a mandate to convert our fleet of Air Force aircraft to bio-fuel in the next few years. Tests using bio-fuel in a B-52 have proven trouble-free and will soon be extended to other aircraft. One speaker stated that 'aviation does not want to be the last one supporting conventional oil'.
UAVs were a main topic of the meeting, and the technology overlaps between UAVs and PAVs were quite apparent. Leaders from Lockheed-Martin, Grumman-Northrop and Boeing, among others were expecting major future market opportunities to emerge around UAV and PAV development.

GSE progressing with bio-fueled GA engines

Greg Stevenson continues to make great progress in developing bio-fueled engines for GA. He reported in late March that the 6 cylinder engine has been built in both air and liquid cooled version. It rivals the 100 BHP Rotax but is about 20 pounds lighter, even including its belt-drive propeller speed reducer unit. Able to run bio-diesel as well as Jet A, this small engine is said to be capable of bsfc of 0.40 lb/hp-hr. CAFE expects Greg to be overwhelmed with request from teams in the PAV Challenge to use one of these engines in the flight competition.
Greg has also taken steps toward being able to convert conventional GA engines to run on Jet A by way of cylinder head modifications. His other small bio-fueled engines are of 6 BHP and 55 BHP and the 55 BHP model weighs only 45 pounds!

CAFE engineers creating flight test gear

CAFE engineers Steve Williams and Scott Nevin are designing and building new, state-of-the-art flight test hardware for the NASA PAV Challenge. These miniature computerized devices will record and transmit to the CAFE Flight Test Center via telemetry the flight performance data of each competing aircraft. Automated software will convert the data real-time into analyzed results.

Noise Prize grows to $50K!

After extensive discussion, CAFE and NASA agreed to increase the amount of the PAV Noise Prize to $50,000. This is a winner take all prize that averages both the Community Noise and the Cabin Noise of the competing PAVs. The PAV science archive posted [here] is rich with ideas on how to achieve lower noise levels, and we expect many teams to place high priority on this part of the 2007 PAV Challenge.

FAA to work with CAFE!

CAFE's Brien Seeley and David Lynch gave a 90 minute presentation to assembled Federal Aviation Administration officials on March 22 in Oakland to describe the safety aspects of the NASA PAV Challenge. The FAA was extremely helpful and receptive, and provided a number of good suggestions for how to facilitate the competition. FAA will provide expert staffing at the event in August.

Aerospace in the News

CAFE Foundation President Dr. Brien Seeley was among the aerospace leaders selected to participate in the 2007 Aerospace in the News Conference in San Diego on March 15. There he will join a small number of leaders from major aerospace companies, the DoD and NASA to discuss the impact of future trends on aviation. The topics will include the impact of oil prices, incorporation of UAVs into U.S. Airspace, sustainability of the aerospace business model and NASA's future aeronautical initiatives. Dr. Seeley will represent the PAV sector in these discussions. See:

CAFE receives NASA Approval for 2007 PAV Challenge

On November 6, 2006, NASA Headquarters officially approved the Team Agreement and Rules for the 2007 Personal Air Vehicle Challenge. This opens the event for registration of teams who plan to compete for the $250,000 in prizes. The dates for the 2007 event are August 4-12. Download the rules [here].

CAFE receives "Notice of Interest" letters for PAV Challenge

Several teams that are planning on entering the 2007 PAV Challenge have sent in their Notice of Interest Letters to CAFE to obtain priority in being accepted into the competition. Only 16 teams can be accepted. CAFE will soon announce more news about teams entering the event.

Dr. Brien A. Seeley M.D receives Award

CAFE Foundation President, Dr. Brien A. Seeley M.D., was selected by peers at SAE International's General Aviation Technology Conference and Exhibition in Wichita, KS, August 31, 2006, to receive an "Award of Excellence" for his Oral Presentation entitled, "The PAV Challenge, NASA's 'moonshot for aeronautics'".

Dr. Seeley's presentation attracted a very large audience of aerospace and general aviation engineers and prompted a lively discussion among the experts in attendance.

PAV Technology Pavilion at AirVenture 2006

The first ever PAV Technology Pavilion at EAA AirVenture was a major attraction this year.  The most important of NASA's PAV sector technology projects assembled exhibits in the pavilion that showed visitors the amazing capabilities that future PAVs will embody.  Included in the pavilion were:

  • Carter Copter (VTOL, high speed PAV with high-G landing gear and scimitar propeller)
  • GSE Engineering (Several new mid-compression multi-fuel diesel engines)
  • University of Iowa (NASA low cost synthetic vision demonstrator)
  • Munro & Associates (Laser horizon, pistonfan blade prototypes, cutaway Corvette powerplant, laser weld/bond fuselage, and Michigan SATS model)
  • Barnaby Wainfan (Facetmobile demonstration and scale model)
  • Terrafugia (The Transition roadable LSA)
  • CAFE Foundation (Race to the Future movie debut, NASA Tailfan model)

More news and photos [here].

CAFE at Oshkosh 2006

Personal Aircraft Design Academy Symposium

Dr. Brien Seeley served as Program Chair for this year's Personal Aircraft Design Academy Symposium, which met Friday night July 28, 2006 at 7:30 PM in the Vette Theater of the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, WI. An excellent program on High Lift Devices and a new Corvette Powered 5 seat PAV was presented.  The perpetual PADA Trophy was presented by PADA board member Todd Hodges to Alan Klapmeier of Cirrus Design.

Pop Mechanics

CAFE in Popular Mechanics

The cover article on the July 2006 issue of Popular Mechanics is entitled "How You'll Fly" and presents a glimpse of the future of personal aviation.  The article quotes CAFE President Dr. Brien Seeley describes the concept of computer-assisted piloting. Read the article [here]


CAFE at Society of Automotive Engineers

CAFE Foundation President Dr. Brien Seeley will be presenting details about the NASA-sponsored Personal Air Vehicle Centennial Challenge at the Wichita Kansas SAE General Aviation Conference.  For more information click [here].

CAFE V.P. Dr. Larry Ford at Golden West FlyIn

On June 10, 2006 the CAFE plans for the NASA PAV Challenge were presented to the crowd of EAA enthusiasts at the Golden West FlyIn in Marysville, CA.

CAFE attends Aviation Industry Week

On March 29, 2006 CAFE Directors Jo Dempsey and Mike Fenn represented the CAFE Foundation at Aviation Industry Week in Las Vegas, NV.

CAFE at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C.

On March 14 and 15, 2006 Dr. Brien Seeley and Steve Williams attended the first annual NASA Allied Organization Summit at NASA HQ.  All the Centennial Challenge host organizations met with NASA leaders to collaborate in planning the important future technology prizes from NASA.




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