Sailplanes Lead The Way

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There was an undercurrent of consensus at the symposium that successful electric airplanes will be similar to sailplanes, at least in the short term. Indeed, there are successful self-launching sailplanes that use electricity, although small internal combustion engines are much more common in the self launchers. A live motor, propeller, and controller demonstration was provided by Greg Cole, chief designer of Windward Performance LLC, Manufacturers of the SparrowHawk self-launching sailplane.

Several members of the audience had to hang on to their chairs, tables, and plates during the demonstration and the motor was running at a fraction of its rated 15-Kw performance. The entire assembly is capable of retracting into the fuselage of the aircraft, for true sailplane operations. it is designed for two self launches up to 5000 feet before requiring a recharge.