Company Hopes To Demonstrate Potential For Climate Studies
When Burt Rutan's Voyager became the first aircraft to
circumnavigate the globe without refueling in 1986, the feat was
being called, "the last first" in aviation. (Until the late Steve
Fossett did it solo in GlobalFlyer in 2005.) While that mark is no
longer available to be claimed, aircraft developers have found a
new incentive for pursuing higher-efficiencies - the Green
On Sunday, Pipistrel, a Slovenian company, celebrated the start
of what is planned to be a global flight of 62,000 miles in its
Virus-SW914. The aircraft is derived from the production Virus,
(pictured,) but features even further weight reduction techniques
to allow it to fly at 30,000 feet, twice the ceiling of the
production model, where it will travel at up to 180 MPH.
Discovery.com reports that the pilot, Matevz Lenarcic, departed
Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, and expects to fly to Morocco,
Senegal, across the Atlantic, up and down the coasts of South
America, over the Antarctic and across the Pacific to New Zealand,
Australia, southeast Asia and back to Africa.
The Pipistrel team informs ANN that the next leg of Lenarcic's
trip is from Africa to Natal in Brazil, South America. Distance is
over 1642NM with an expected flight time in no-wind conditions
to cross the Atlantic at 12.5 hours. But the flight
organizers say it looks like he will have a headwind
(which is to be expected) for this leg.
To put this in perspective he is travelling a distance slightly
longer than New York to the Phoenix, overwater with no landing
areas. He expects to use 63 US Gallons of fuel in no headwind
conditions, so the estimate with headwinds is for closer to 80
gallons, according to Pipistrel.
Pipistrel says that Lenarcic and his airplane will be in Sebring
January 15th, just before the Light Sport Expo opens on the 19th.
While he expects to depart for Texas prior to the official opening
of the show, a weather delay could have Lenarcic and the modified
Virus in Sebring for at least a portion of the show.
The company says the flight, being conducted in cooperation with
Penn State University, isn't just to demonstrate the plane's
outstanding endurance and fuel economy, but also to show its
potential role in climate and atmospheric studies, including areas
with limited sensor networks.