Thursday, 23 July 2009

Something for gadget fans

If your tyres look a bit flat, and if you can't be bothered to check them the 'manual' way, you could always invest in this wireless pressure and temperature gauge.

At $298.95 it isn't cheap, and personally I'd rather have the avgas, but if this kind of thing floats your boat or if you have a bad back or a fixation about exactly correct tyre pressures, then get in touch with Aircraft Spruce and hand over your credit card details.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

A long night ahead

Ever get nervous about flying a single over water? Spare a thought for Mike Blyth and James Pitman who are, as I write, flying from Guinea in Africa to Brazil, a flight that is expected to take between twenty and twenty-five hours (yup, they’ve got ferry tanks).

They're flying a D6 Sling, a Rotax 912 ULS powered LSA that they designed and built. Their departure from Guinea was somewhat delayed thanks to a spot of bother with the local constabulary. Apparently, while taking pictures of the night-time African streets they inadvertantly included a policeman in one of the frames. This led to lots of interviews in lots of rooms by lots of officials, who, judging by the reports were not the friendliest of human beings.

That mess got sorted out today, and after a quick trip to a petrol station (there was no avgas at Conakry, Guinea) they headed back to the airfield where it seems they managed to get their satellite tracking working again. You can see their position live by going to their site here.

I’m happy with longish sea crossings in the C182, but I would be distinctly nervous about flying more than 4,000km over the Atlantic behind a Rotax fuelled by petrol I’d just brought from a petrol station in Africa. I’ve never seen or sat in a D6 Sling, but the cockpit must be huge to accommodate the cojones required for this trip.

Update: After 21 hours flying Mike and James arrived in Brazil. I'm guessing that they are sleeping right now. Tomorrow they're scheduled to fly again, but it's a relatively short, four hour flight.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Around the world in a prototype LSA

There's more than one way to get to Oshkosh, and while we'll be risking DVT in Virgin economy, Mike Blyth and James Pitman are taking a longer route.

Mike and James are co-owners of The Airplane Factory and betwen them they've designed the D6 Sling, a 100hp Rotax powered LSA. They are currently flying the production prototype around the world, with of course a stop at Oshkosh on the way. You can follow their progress here.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 22nd, they'll be setting off from Conakry in Guinea for Belem in Brazil a distance of 4,044km (2,183nm). That's a lot of water to cross at a still air speed of about 105kt. See you both in Oshkosh.

Electric aeroplanes coming to Oshkosh

It seems that one of the emerging themes of this year's AirVenture is the advent of electrically-powered flight.

Shown here is a Flightstar e-Spyder, an ultralight fitted with a Yuneec electric motor and battery pack. This development airframe (lightened to make useful load available for the battery pack) will be flying during AirVenture in the Ultralight park.

With the current battery package powering the 20 kilowatt motor the e-Spyder has a duration of about 40 minutes. A full recharge takes about three hours.

Update: Yuneec's e430 continues testing in California with the aim of gaining experimental exhibition certification so that it can fly at Oshkosh. Yuneec's website can be found here.