Chip Yates does not like sitting still. Just a day after piloting his electric-powered Long EZ airplane to over 200 miles per hour – making him the fastest electric-airplane pilot in the world – he had to disassemble the airplane, pack it up and drive 2,000 miles east to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Here at Airventure, Yates continues to be busy answering questions about his record-setting run. And perhaps one of the more surprising answers is that Yates is a not a veteran test pilot. He just got his license in June and has about 58 hours of experience, including the record-setting run last week.
When the electric vehicle pioneer bought the used airplane it had a 118 horsepower, four-cylinder gasoline-powered engine that is fairly standard for a Long EZ. Over the course of several months Yates and his team pulled the four-cylinder engine out of the Long EZ. They then pulled the 193 kW (258 hp), liquid cooled electric motor out of his record setting battery powered motorcycle and mounted it to the back of the Long EZ.
With the very well used (Yates calls it “abused”) lithium polymer battery back from the motorcycle in the back seat, the Long EZ was being prepared as a test bed for some of the technologies Yates needs to develop for his transatlantic flight. But after setting speed records for an electric motorcycle, first up for the Long EZ was a speed run.
NASA has awarded the largest prize in aviation history, created to inspire the development of more fuel-efficient aircraft and spark the start of a new electric airplane industry. The technologies demonstrated by the CAFE Green Flight Challenge, sponsored by Google, competitors may end up in general aviation aircraft, spawning new jobs and new industries for the 21st century.
The first place prize of $1.35 million was awarded to team Pipistrel-USA.com of State College, Pa. The second place prize of $120,000 went to team eGenius, of Ramona, Calif.
“NASA congratulates Pipistrel-USA.com for proving that ultra-efficient aviation is within our grasp,” said Joe Parrish, NASA’s acting chief technologist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Today we’ve shown that electric aircraft have moved beyond science fiction and are now in the realm of practice.”
The winning aircraft had to fly 200 miles in less than two hours and use less than one gallon of fuel per occupant, or the equivalent in electricity. The first and second place teams, which were both electric-powered, achieved twice the fuel efficiency requirement of the competition, meaning they flew 200 miles using just over a half-gallon of fuel equivalent per passenger.
“Two years ago the thought of flying 200 miles at 100 mph in an electric aircraft was pure science fiction,” said Jack W. Langelaan, team leader of Team Pipistrel-USA.com. “Now, we are all looking forward to the future of electric aviation.”
Nothing’s worse than coming home from a long flight to find your shampoo all over everything in your bag. Redditor thinkadinky has an easy fix: put some plastic wrap under the caps of your bottles.
Even if you use Ziploc bags as required by the TSA, this method still saves you from losing all that shampoo/lotion/whatever, and keeps it from getting all over your other toiletries. All you need to do is unscrew the cap, lay some plastic wrap over the hole, and screw it back on. You should be safe from any explosions that may come your way.
We were promised jetpacks! Well, they exist. I flew one last weekend, and it was awesome. Video of my flight with Jetlev Southwest is below. – Danny Sullivan
For Father’s Day 2012, my family got me a 30 minute flight with Jetlev Southwest. Best present ever. I got the hang of it fairly quickly and was even able to do things like “The Submarine,” where you dive under the water and come back up. They’re based in Newport Beach, and you’ll find more info here: http://www.jetlevsouthwest.com
For the first time in more than 30 years, NASA is allowing Kennedy Space Center visitors inside the Launch Control Center – where NASA directors and engineers supervised all of the 152 launches including the space shuttle and Apollo programs.
The KSC Up-Close: Launch Control Center (LCC) Tour, the second in Kennedy Space Center’s special 50th anniversary series of rare-access tours, takes visitors inside Firing Room 4, one of the LCC’s four firing rooms and the one from which all 21 shuttle launches since 2006 were controlled.
Inside Firing Room 4, visitors will pass by the computer consoles at which engineers monitored the computerized launch control system’s thousands of system checks every minute leading up to launch. They’ll see the main launch countdown clock and many large video monitors on the walls, and enter the “bubble room,” with its wall of interior windows through which the Kennedy Space Center management team viewed all of the proceedings below.
A Rare Opportunity
As with the Vehicle Assembly Building, visitors have not had access to the LCC since the late 1970s, during the period after the Apollo and Skylab programs ended and before the first space shuttle launch in 1981.
The LCC will continue to operate in guiding the next generation of rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center for NASA and potentially for commercial space programs. Future launches of SpaceX, whose recent launch from nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station resulted in the first mission by a commercial company to travel to and dock with the International Space Station, could take place from Kennedy Space Center beginning in 2013.
The LCC Tour is led by a trained space expert, giving visitors an insider’s view of the space program from launch preparation to liftoff. The tour also includes drive-by views of Launch Pad 39 and culminates at the Apollo/Saturn V Center, where visitors can resume the regular tour.
Flight Search helps you explore air travel options and plan your trip with just a few clicks of the mouse. You can find and book flights within the US, and from the US to many international destinations.
Access Flight Search at google.com/flights, or type a flight-related search into Google then click “Flights” on the left hand side of your search results page.
The Department of Transportation has approved four more long-distance flights from Reagan National Airport.
– Alaska Airlines will fly to Portland, JetBlue Airways will fly to San Juan, Southwest will fly to Austin and Virgin America will fly to San Francisco.
– Four dominant carriers were granted permission earlier to extend long-distance flights. United now flies from National to San Francisco. Delta was given approval for service to Salt Lake City, American to Los Angeles and U.S. Airways to San Diego.
The peak of the Lyrid meteor shower will be viewable all over the world this Saturday night. With the best rates seen just before dawn. The Lyrids can offer a shower of activity, with peak meteor rates between 10-100 per hour. This year Dr. Cooke estimates that the rate will be around 15 per hour, though he is hoping for a surprise increase above this!
The Lyrids are pieces of debris from the periodic Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher and have been observed for more than 2,600 years. In mid-April of each year, Earth runs into the stream of debris from the comet, which causes the Lyrid meteor shower.
Also, NASA plans to have an expert chat during the event, where you can ask questions to meteor experts and view live feeds:
If you’re looking for a fun way to spend an early spring weekend, make plans to stay “up all night” with NASA experts to watch the Lyrids brighten the skies. On Saturday, April 21, from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. EDT, meteor experts Dr. Bill Cooke, Danielle Moser and Rhiannon Blaauw from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center will answer your questions about the Lyrids via a live Web chat.
Joining the chat is easy. Simply visit this page a few minutes before 11 p.m. EDT on Saturday, April 21. The chat module will appear at the bottom of this page. After you log in, wait for the chat module to be activated, then ask your questions!
A live video feed of the Lyrid meteor shower will be embedded on the page on the night of the Web chat, and there will be alternate allsky views being streamed from the allsky camera network.
Six families of makers from the Bay Area are working on building a fully-operational motion controlled flight simulator based on the fighter ship from Battlestar Galactica.
Using the fuselage of a small plane, the team has already built a motion platform that rotates a full dizzying 360 degrees in both the pitch and roll axes. They’re still a ways away from finishing the project, including furnishing the interior of the cockpit to look like the ship from the show, and programming the open source flight simulator software to work with their rig.
You can learn more about all this by visiting the project home, The Viper, or through the Kickstarter fundraising project. Oh, and check out my favorite part of the whole thing, the test model built using legos…I would love to see NASA doing that 🙂