Sunseeker II Solar Airplane to Fly Over Europe this Spring


Flying so Quietly, Birds Sometimes Try to Land on It
We've just got a tip form Eric Lentz Gauthier of Solar Flight telling us that the Sunseeker II, a solar airplane, will be flying over Europe this Spring: "The exact dates and destinations that the tour will cover are not set in stone right now. The first leg will be from Freidrichshafen, Germany down to Sicily and then back up to Switzerland. From there the Sunseeker will be flown over the Swiss Alps to the Austrian Dolomites and through to Slovenia. From Slovenia we will fly West through Italy again, then Southern France down to Spain. " More details below.

There are 2 air shows where the Sunseeker II will "definitely" be on display:

AERO FRIEDRICHSHAFEN in Freidrichshafen, Germany April 2-5

World Air Games in Torino, Italy June 6-14.

What It's Like to Fly in a Solar-Powered Plane?
Here is an excerpt from an interview with Eric Raymond, designer of the Sunseeker, in a German magazine:

Gunther Rochelt’s Musculair MPA’s (Musculair I and II) showed that fight was possible on very low power, with small wing areas, if all the concepts of modern sailplanes were applied, in ultralight form.

For example high aspect ratio wing, laminar fow, stressed skin construction, maximum streamlining, etc.

With Guther’s help, I developed the concept of a hybrid aircraft, that would need batteries to take off and climb, but then could maintain level fight on solar power, and could also be fown as a glider, with the prop stowed away. As the battery pack is small, 90 minutes of soaring time result in a full battery, since the unused solar power is channelled into the batteries, climbing is again possible under power.

With its current generation of batteries, solar cells and electronics installed in 2005, the Sunseeker II has never been forced to land before late afternoon.

The magic part begins when I near cloud base. With my batteries full, or nearly so, I switch on the motor, and climb up between the clouds, once on top, I can throttle back to fy on direct solar power in the clear, bright conditions over the clouds. Under direct solar power, the Sunseeker II is basically a one-speed airplane, fying about 18 m/s (~40 mph). When soaring conditions are present or if the batteries are used, faster speeds near 36 m/s (~80 mph) are possible.

When I fnally shut off the motor, it takes hours to glide down, and the airbrakes are normally needed to get down before dark.

The Sunseeker II fies slowly enough that it is comfortable with the canopy open.

Also, birds are not afraid and come very close, matching my speed, almost landing on my plane sometimes.

Isn't that amazing? All that with the power of the sun. Birds sometimes try to land on the plane!

Solar Flight dedicates their work to the memory of Günter Rochelt, a designer and builder who influenced the Sunseeker a lot, from what I gather. You can learn more about his projects here.

Via Solar Flight
Photos: Solar-Flight.com, with permission.
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