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Sustainer Engine: FES and Jet

When you run the engine it is often thought of as your flight is over. A few flights ago Sean was flying his 304S JET Shark and decided rather than spending the next hour attempting to get high enough to try and make it home. He tossed in the towel, decided the cold beer could be even closer. Flipped a switch, turned a knob and cruised home burning Jet A. The day was pretty marginal and there was no better weather to fly to. The cold beer was really going to be most enjoyable.

When to use a sustainer

Under different conditions, you could keep going, use the engine to cruise to better air. I was doing a motor-glider endorsement in our Stemme.  We climbed up on one mountain and the glide to the next mountain looked like it would be difficult. It would have been nice to have another 500ft to 1000ft.  That would have been great. In a pure glider, we would not have even attempted it. We would have started back home, we knew it was going to lead to landing out. However, an engine to jump across to the next mountain would have worked well.

Ideally, once we left at cloudbase (I mean below the base of the clouds in class E airspace above 10,000ft) to run the engine for a short run and make it to the next set of clouds with more options and in the working band would have been great.

Rather than abandoning our flight, we could have kept exploring and soaring. The purist, of course, would not appreciate it and said our flight ended there. However, we could have had a scenic soaring flight interrupted by some engine run. We opted to try it as a glider then use the engine for a restart as we headed to an airport still within glide.

As my student and I talked that was really the ideal position for a FES. Just to help make the jump and continue to soar. A turbo would not have done anything at the altitude we were at. The self-launching system would have worked fine.  We would spend more time with the process of the start, warm-up, shutdown, stowing, etc. then the actual runtime needed to make it across.

New FAI contest using FES

The FAI just announced (click here) there will be a contest in Italy in September 2019 to explore using electric gliders. It is fun watching all of the comments on social media from both sides of the fence. It is another race with a lower risk of landing out and when you use the engine it is not game over. I am curious to see where the benefit will be using the engine. To try and extend the glide a little or last-minute restart to climb back into the working band of the lift?

LZ Design (the maker of the FES) and a few of the glider manufactures have been pretty active demonstrating what the possibilities are with this new hybrid soaring.

Viewpoint on motorglider

It leads to interesting views on how you consider your soaring flight. At the extreme other perspectives of soaring, I have another pilot who is learning to soar in his touring motor-glider. He currently has private glider privileges.  Never turned the engine off until he came to fly with us. To him, a cross-country flight is about using dinosaur whiskey vs solar energy. Only shutting down when things are going well and normally only going to idle. 2019 Goal: Silver Badge.

Banner Photo by Petr Kolmann


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The Sun Ship Game

Sun Ship Game – 2010 Big Sky Film Festival – Programmer’s Choice Award-winning The Sun Ship Game is an 82 minute DVD film by Robert Drew.

Flying hundreds of miles a day through wild weather with no engine requires feats of airmanship unprecedented in human history and known before only to the birds. Soaring birds are able to accomplish these feats through instincts developed over millions of years. A new strain of human being is able to make these flights through strenuous mental effort, calculation and sensational feel for the air.

George Moffat and Gleb Derujinsky are great pilots and good friends who compete in the sport of Soaring for speed and distance in aircraft without engines – sleek competition gliders. Both would like to win the 1969 U.S. Soaring Championship. The Sun Ship Game voyages through remarkable aerial photography with both pilots into the sky at a regional contest in Vermont and into wild weather with 83 other competitors in Marfa, Texas. Through eight days of hard flying in skies alternately filled with brilliant beauty and stormy violence, their two approaches arrive at a dramatic conclusion and one of them is named the U.S. Champion.

garret willat  Garret Willat holds a flight instructor rating with over 8000 hours in sailplanes. His parents have owned Sky Sailing Inc. since 1979. He started instructing the day after his 18th birthday. Since then, Garret has represented the US Junior team in 2003 and 2005. He graduated from Embry-Riddle with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Aeronautics. Garret represented the US Open Class team in 2008 and 2010 and the Club Class team in 2014. Garret has won 3 US National Championships.