Friday, May 6, 2011

Electric Race Update: CAFE-Bound!

Picking up my electric aircraft coverage again with an email from Phoenix Air USA kingpin Jim Lee with the latest updates on the PhoEnix electric motorglider NASA/CAFE race entry, which just came out of the paint shop and has all its pretty parts put together...and a beautimous bird she is indeed.
Built for slipping through the air: the PhoEnix electric motorglider.
"We put the PhoEnix together," Jim tells me, "my last day in Czech so we could finally see what it looks like.  Man am I excited now!  I can't believe that I will be the one to fly such an amazing ship."
Color me green with envy.  
Jim's deep and broad soaring background should stand him in good stead tweaking every last ounce of performance from the gorgeous, one-off soaring bird.
He's also got a few more details on his Phoenix blog.  Here are some highlights: 

View from tail: Gear retracts up into normal baggage area.

Conceived for the NASA CAFE Green Flight Challenge..."A race that offers big bucks for the winner ($1.65 million total), but with a bar set so high that it is unlikely that anyone will win it. But if any aircraft can do it, the PhoEnix can!"
Electric motor installation.

Check out that shadow for a sense of the high aspect ratio.  Photo: Jim Lee

[] A modified Schempp- Hirth Discus wing installed as a shoulder wing to make room for the 
retractible gear. 
[] Gear electrically driven.  Swings back into the wheel wells (the baggage compartment of the original Phoenix.)
Photo courtesy Jim Lee
 [] wings 14.5M (47.5 ft.) span, optimized for the 100mph minimum required speed for the 200 mile race course.
[] race begins July 10 no. of San Francisco. 

Next post, I'll have a rundown, with pictures, of one of the PhoEnix's top competitors, the Pipistrel Taurus 4 twin-fuselage electric racer!

And here's Jim beaming at the end of Sun 'n Fun last month after receiving the Outstanding Fixed Wing Light Sport Aircraft Award.  
Congrats James, it's a worthy winner for sure!

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