Thursday, June 23, 2011

EAA Electric Contest Postponed

Surprising word came today while hanging out at the Piper Sentimental Journey in Lock Haven, PA, that EAA has canceled its Electric Flight Challenge until next year's Airventure show to give manufacturers more time to satisfy FAA's Phase 1 requirement.
What's Phase 1, you ask?  Read on.
Elektra One single-seater production electric.  Photo courtesy PC-Aero
 Today’s release, posted here, announced the postponement even though there was “a strong influx of applications...nearly a dozen”, whatever that means - 11?  8.3?
Anyway, a $60,000 Electric Flight Prize was to have been awarded after three flight competitions and an “innovation evaluation” at this year’s Airventure (end of July).
Now for Phase 1: EAA explains it's the requirement for the normal 40-hour “fly off” period typically flown by experimentally-built kits, to verify the aircraft is safely controllable throughout its normal speed range and all expected maneuvers.
Chairman Tom Poberezny was quoted as saying that, in essence, too many of the competitors wouldn’t have enough time to finish flying off their hours before the challenge began.
All in all, pretty disappointing news and a bit of a PR loss for EAA since it was ballyhooing the event on its website.
Waiex Prototype.  Photos courtesy Sonex Aircraft
 Nonetheless, it’s the right call, and a smarter, safer move for EAA to ensure these aircraft live up to the excitement rather than getting the wrong kind of headlines in front of hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts and media cameras. 
In homage to the almost-event and not to be completely squelched, EAA promises many electric birds  will be on display throughout Airventure. 
That includes showcase flights from certain aircraft.  Which makes one wonder how FAA allows showcase flights but not competition flights, but let’s not quibble.  Maybe they will only be production electrics.  Maybe there’s a Reg A.2b-97i subpart 5/3a in the catacombs somewhere that covers it and what do we care as long as we get to see electrics fly?  Last year’s silent, impressive flight of the production-version Taurus Electro was nothing less than thrilling.
Still scheduled is the second annual World Symposium on Electric Aircraft, set for July 29-30.  I sat through the whole thing last year.  Many brainy speakers and leaders of the movement gave fascinating accounts of this new wave of flight.  I’ll definitely be there again this year. Register at the link above to make sure you get in...although the link they have isn't active yet...but keep trying, it'll be hot soon enough.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gonna Take a Sentimental Journey...with Cubs!

“Come one, come all!” says the invitation to the great, annual Piper Fly-In that’s coming up next week.
Dubbed SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY 2011, it's the 26th anniversary of this “Family-Oriented” event.
 It's held at – where else? – William T. Piper Airport (KLHV) in Lock Haven, PA.
The dates for those of you who are, like myself, Cub afflicted, is June 22 - 25, 2011.  You can fly in (an airspace How-To is on the organizer’s website), drive in, camp under a wing for $15/nite if you like (lots of folks do) or stay at one of several hotels, motels or B&Bs in the area.  Dozens of Cubs alone, along with other models, make the trek every year.

The Piper Museum and Memorial area also there: that's worth a trip for cub lovers all by itself.
There are events and contests such as seminars, flea markets, bomb drop, spot landing, corn roasts, awards, nightly bands, tours and more.
This year’s theme: “Vagabonds Saved Piper"
Featured planes will be the PA-15 Vagabond and PA-17 Vagabond Trainer.
PA-17 Vagabond Trainer   Photo courtesy UK Airshow Review
Tickets are cheap enough at $8, $4 for kids 13 - 17 and under 12 youngsters are free – hard to beat that these days for a classic aircraft lovefest.
Another note: All makes and models of aircraft are welcomed.  Since most current pilots have some connection to those early Pipers anyway, no reason not to come if you're in the neighborhood.
I’ll be there catching some air and lots of photos for some stories.
Also hoping for good weather for all flying in...I’m still recovering from the 6 days it took in a Cub-type to get from Iowa to Florida against bad weather for Sun ‘ Fun!