Short-Wing Virus Collects Most Of $250K In Prize Money
A slightly modified Pipistrel Virus motorglider collected
the majority of $250,000 in prize money awarded this weekend by
NASA, in a competition aimed at bringing small aircraft to the
With the support of NASA, the CAFE Foundation held a race this
weekend for personal aircraft vehicles (PAVs) at Charles Schultz
Sonoma County Airport in California. Four teams competed in six
categories, reports C-Net: speed, short takeoff, efficiency,
handling, noise, and best overall.
The Virus -- built in Slovenia, recently approved for US
operations by the FAA, and available for base price of about
$70,000 -- took top honors, winning the $100,000 grand prize... as
well as best short-field takeoff, and for most efficient aircraft.
Pilot Michael Coates called the Virus "the Prius of airplanes" --
as it can go as fast as 170 mph, while getting 50 miles per
As for speediest aircraft tested, a Vans RV-4 collected that
$25,000 prize. The highly-modified aircraft also collected another
$50,000 for being the quietest plane tested of all entrants.
"The RV-4 had a large number of modifications to achieve the
lower noise, and they did an enormous amount to flight testing with
noise meters to become masters of low noise flight," said NASA
aerospace engineer Mark Moore.
A team flying the erstwhile Cessna 172 collected
$25,000 for best-handling aircraft... perhaps not surprising,
considering it was the only Part 23 aircraft in a field
of sport planes.
"The results make sense -- the Cessna 172 is the most successful
(and highest production volume small aircraft) precisely for the
reason that the handling qualities are so good," said Moore.
As part of its Centennial Challenge program, NASA has staked $2
million for five PAV races.