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Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 20 No. 21
Monday June 7, 2021
Sky Electric Back To The Future
Team Pie Aeronefs SA

     Don’t be misled by the headline.
     The coming of electric powered airplanes is as sure as tomorrow. What form these birds will eventually take may be something between what we have known to be airplanes or what we know now to be rotary aircraft or even drones.
     But the manner in which electric flight will be introduced to the public is as old as flight itself.

Electric aircraft Race Teams

Return of The Air Races

Jeff Zallman     The simple truth is the future will get a big push at least in aviation circles, if Jeff Zallman, (right) the promoter of Air Race E has his way.
     Air races have always been a magnet to advancing aviation.
     Air Race E the world’s first all electric airplane race will bring together a group of small, single-engine jobs that will fly wing tip to wing tip around a plotted course zooming past pylons placed like a race track on the ground above an airport.
     When this race will take place and where it will be held, is still an open question.
Zallman has said that the process of selecting a host city the first race has involved more than 100 cities that have expressed an interest in having the event.
     “We are down to a small list of potential venues,” Zallman told AVweb’s Paul Bertorelli.
     What is known is that the first electric airplane race will be held (God willing) in Q3 2022.
     Right now according to the latest news, Zallman has a half dozen teams of fliers booked and is looking for more to enter the competition.
     Think about it for a moment . . . teams will race airplanes on a tight 5 kilometers circuit just 10 meters above the ground.
     Zallman, who had planned this event originally for 2020 saw his dream shut down by COVID-19.
     But, despite the setbacks that continue as COVID slowly gives up ground around the world, some big-time endorsements have raised interest, including Airbus devoting some pages on its website about the event, and we assume, support otherwise.

What’s Old Is New Again

     To set the stage, the airplanes are small. They all look to be maybe the size of a J2 (Piper Cub) or AerCoupe, two smallish aircraft that were popular here in America after World War II.
     It is hoped that a Formula One all-electric airplane race, a concept that Zallman has now expanded to include other than fixed wing aircraft, will raise interest, viability and support to the idea of electric powered flight amongst the general public.

Electric Captains of the Clouds

     The idea, Jeff Zallman is creating with an air race, and a spectacular event to draw attention to aviation, is as old as aviation itself.
     The history books are filled with both air races and early stunt flights that were held just a few years after the first Wright Brothers flight in 1903 that fastened the public’s attention to aviation.
     Brazilian inventor Alberto Santos Dumont flew his aircraft that looked like a box kite called “14-bis” (Quatorze-bis), also known as Oiseau de proie ("bird of prey" in French), in 1906, near Paris.
     Dumont who earlier had flown around the Eiffel Tower and made headlines worldwide in 14-bis was the first manned powered flight to be publicly witnessed by a crowd. It was also the first powered flight made anywhere outside of the United States, as well as the first powered flight by a non-Wright airplane.
     It wasn’t long before, with everybody getting into flying, air races became the stuff of fame and aviation headlines.

Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Doolittle

     Jimmy Doolittle, known as the leader of the Doolittle Raiders who, in 1942 bombed Tokyo, flying B-25 Mitchell Bomber aircraft, and later served as General of the 8th USAF became a household name October 26, 1925 piloting his Curtiss R-3C-2 to victory in the Schneider Trophy Race with an average speed of 374 km/h (232.17 mph).
     The next day Doolittle flew the R3C-2 (that now resides in the National Air & Space Museum) over a straight course at a world-record speed of 395 km/h and that was front-page news everywhere.
     Amelia Earhart set all sorts of firsts for pilots and women including a speed record from Mexico City to Washington, D.C. in 1935.

Hero Electric In Aviation

Dominique Milcendeau     So will Air Race E “light the candle” for electric aircraft?
     And who might emerge as our next aviation hero of a new way to fly, inspiring others?
     Will it be Dominique Milcendeau (left) of Team French E-Racer piloting a Cassutt IIIM with an electric propulsion system?
     Maybe it will be one or even more than one from the American Fort Worth, Texas entrant Möbius Aero?
Carl Copeland Möbius     One of the Founding and Official teams of Air Race E and the first and only official team of the Americas, Team Möbius member Carl Copeland, (right) said that the team is seeking both sponsors and industry partners to join them in ushering in the advent of electric flight.
     “We are in full-throttle R&D, developing a new, energy-dense battery technology, prototyping a custom, ultra-light motor, and currently producing the first 3D printed full-size prop specifically designed to exploit the advantages of a new motor platform.”
     That there are secrets in plenty, yet to be unlocked, in all of this simply thrills the imagination.
     “We are in the late stages of development for a new type of power-dense (therefore lighter) battery,” Möbius Aero says.
     “Unlike the lithium many are reasonably using, our system will not be using dangerous or toxic materials. It will also benefit from not being prone to thermal run-away or other fire hazard conditions. It will, as a result, have a lower discharge rate than lithium, but we will employ systems that manage our power availability.”

Electric Pie In The Sky

     Another bright star is Pie Aeronefs SA, a Swiss electric aircraft manufacturer founded just a year ago in March 2020 by Marc Umbricht.
     “The idea is about developing next-gen electric aircraft that could replace aging piston-engine general aviation airplanes.
     “After discovering the upcoming Air Race E event, we wanted to use this opportunity to evolve in a competitive environment.
     “This will enable us to design an experimental racer as a first project and keep us moving forward with a tight timeline.
     “In addition,” Marc added, “we not only need to prove our aircraft flies, but also that it’s efficient.”
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