Sailplanes Lead The Way
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.