Discovering Sheffield’s Apperknowle Airfield

apperknowle airfield sheffield  Discovering Sheffield’s Apperknowle Airfield(Image: Neil Theasby, cc-sa-3.0)

Being born and brought-up in the UK city of Sheffield, and maintaining an active interest in aviation and local history throughout my life, I was surprised to discover a small airfield on the outskirts of the city that I’d never heard of before.

The small grass airstrip at Apperknowle once belonged to British Steel (Sheffield was once a global leader in steel production) and features several small hangars reportedly built during the 1980s.

apperknowle airfield sheffield 2  Discovering Sheffield’s Apperknowle Airfield

apperknowle airfield sheffield 3  Discovering Sheffield’s Apperknowle Airfield(Images: Google Earth)

But what’s interesting is the older blister hangar, which looks similar to pre-fab wartime constructions that housed fighter aircraft such as Spitfires and Hurricanes. Nearby are what look like old Nissen huts.

Was Apperknowle airfield ever a small miliary base, or were these buildings simply brought to the site after falling into disuse elsewhere? If you have any further information, please leave a comment below.

PC-Aero Displays Electric Aircraft at Friedrichshafen Aero-Expo

pc aero  PC-Aero Displays Electric Aircraft at Friedrichshafen Aero-Expo(Images: Copyright: PC-Aero/Neowings)

Last week, PC-Aero displayed several of their electric aircraft at the 2012 Aero-Expo (the global show for general aviation) in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Present at the event were the Elektra One Solar (flying with solar cells on the wing surface), Elektra Two Standard (a twin-seat electric aircraft with solar cells for flight), Elektra Two Record (a lightweight aircraft designed for record flights), and Elektra Observer LT (an unmanned very light electric aircraft with solar cells for civil surveillance).

pc aero 2  PC-Aero Displays Electric Aircraft at Friedrichshafen Aero-Expo

Last year the PC-Aero Elektra One won the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize during EAA AirVenture 2011 at Oshkosh. For more environmentally friendly electric aircraft, click here.

Flight Design Launches New Electric Aircraft – the CTLSi

Flight Design CTLS  Flight Design Launches New Electric Aircraft – the CTLSi(Image: CLI, cc-sa-3.0-Poland)

German plane manufacturer Flight Design has launched a new electric aircraft that builds on its well established CT (Composite Technology) series. The CTLSi, which comes with an additional $12,800 on the price tag due to a new Rotax 912iS engine, flew for the first time this week.

The announcement was made during a news conference at Sun ‘n Fun. The new engine is expected to deliver fuel savings of 21% at altitude and includes electric trim and a lithium ion battery.

Flight Design CTLS Lite  Flight Design Launches New Electric Aircraft – the CTLSi(Image: Image: Agentblank, cc-sa-3.0)

Flight Design also told AVweb that the company’s C4 project, launched about a year ago, was also moving forward. “Our next big decision is to nail down the avionics,” said marketing director John Doman. “We need to get everything to come together to meet our $250,000 target.”

(The aircraft used for illustration purposes in the lower image is the CTLS Like, introduced in 2010.)

10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean

sunseeker II  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: Ccoonnrraadd, cc-sa-3.0)

Electric planes and other green aircraft have become more prevalent in recent times, with the ongoing success of Solar Impulse and Electra One winning the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize at Oshkosh.  But this environmentally friendly form of aviation has a long pedigree reaching back more than a century, beginning with La France airship in 1883 and extending through the twentieth century with projects like the Gossamer Penguin.  Here are 10 modern electric aircraft that are blazing that trail into the twenty first century.

Boeing-FCD Project

boeing fuel cell demonstrator  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: Adambro, cc-sa-3.0)

Developed by the shadowy Phantom Works, the Boeing-FCD (Fuel Cell Demonstrator) Project is a technology demonstrator aiming to develop a fuel cell powered light research aircraft.  The electric plane utilizes a Diamond HK-36 Super Dimona motor glider engine and first flew in February 2008.  Boeing’s partners in FCD Project include UK and Spanish companies.

SpySpark

spyspark  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: Dumbo, cc-sa-3.0)

A joint project between DigiSky and Polytechnic University of Berlin, SpySpark is a twin-seat Pioneer Alpi 300 with a 75 kW brushless electric motor powered by lithium polymer batteries.  On June 12, 2009, SpySpark flew into the record books, becoming the fastest manned electric aircraft after reaching speeds of 155 mph.

Colomban Cri-Cri

colomban cri cri  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: Guillaume Paumier, cc-3.0)

The Colomban Cri-Cri (designed in the 1970s) is the smallest twin-engined manned aircraft in the world, but this 2010 overhaul by the European aerospace company (EADS) saw the ultralight vintage plane reborn with four electric engines.  Powered by lithium batteries, the Cri-Cri (short for cricket) can fly for 30 minutes at 60 kn or 15 minutes of aerobatics with a climb rate of 1,000 feet per minute.  This low cost design will support EADS research into hybrid propulsion for helicopters.

ElectraFlyer

electra flyer  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: Armchair Aviator, cc-3.0)

Equipped with a 5.6 kW lithium-ion polymer battery powering an electric motor, the Electraflyer can remain aloft for between one and two hours.  Charging takes around five hours with a standard 120 volt outlet but can be reduced to two hours using 240 volts.  Accessories even include a ballistic parachute, and the total weight comes in at just 249 pounds.

Sonex Aircraft

sonex xenos  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: TimothyMN, cc-3.0)

In 2007 Sonex Aircraft announced a series of alternative power initiatives including the development of an electric aircraft.  The Waiex motor glider first flew in 2010, powered by a 54 kW brushless DC electric motor run off 14.5 kW-hour lithium polymer batteries.  The aircraft can fly for one hour at low speed and manage 15 minutes of aerobatics.  The electric aircraft pictured above is the Sonex Xenos, a development of the Waiex.

Yuneec International E430

Yuneec International E430  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: Caleb Howell (see CalebandBrittany.com), cc-nc-sa-3.0)

This twin-seat Chinese V tailed aircraft, constructed from composite materials with high-aspect ratio wing, was introduced in 2009 as a homebuilt aircraft for the U.S. market.  The Yuneec International E430 runs on battery packs which – the company claims – have a lifespan of 1,500 hours at a cost of $7,000 each.  Operating three to five battery packs gives the electric aircraft around two hours flight time, while the production plane is expected to cost $89,000.

Flightstar e-Spyder

Flightstar e Spyder  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: FlugKerl2, cc-sa-3.0)

Developed by Flightstar Sportplanes in cooperation with Yuneec, the Flightstar e-Spyder is an electric version of the earlier Spyder ultralight.  Powered by a 20 kW electric motor and two 28 lb lithium-polymer battery packs, the aircraft has a 40 minute endurance.  First exhibited at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2009, the Flightstar e-Spyder homebuilt aircraft is set to cost $25,000.

Lange Antares 20E

lange antares 20e  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: Stahlkocker, cc-sa-3.0)

This self-launching motor glider is powered by a 42 kW electric motor and lithium-ion batteries.  Featuring a twin-blade fixed pitch propeller, the Lange Antares 20E can climb to almost 10,000 feet and can function as a conventional glider after launch.  Fifty had been produced as of January 2010.

PC-Aero Elektra One

pc aero elektra one  10 Electric Aircraft that Help Keep the Environment Clean(Image: FlugKerl2, cc-sa-3.0)

This single-seat composite aircraft – a development of a commercial electric aircraft design by PC-Aero – made its maiden flight in early 2011.  Powered by a 16 kW electric motor, the Elektra One has a top speed of 100 mph and an endurance of three hours.  The German plane won the coveted Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize at EAA AirVenture (Oshkosh) 2011 – read more.

Sunseeker II (Top Image)

Originally built in 2002, the Sunseeker II was an updated of an earlier solar powered plane that first flew in the 1990s.  Equipped with a more powerful motor and larger wing, it was the only manned solar powered aircraft in flying condition as of 2008, and in 2009 became the first solar powered plane to cross the Alps.  The event marked 99 years since the first airborne crossing of the Alps in 1910.

Elektra One Wins Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize at Oshkosh

elektra one  Elektra One Wins Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize at Oshkosh(Image: Shahn Sederberg)

The Elektra One performed a demoflight during EAA AirVenture 2011 in Oshkosh on Saturday, July 30, demonstrating the electric aircraft’s high – and completely silent – performance. The demonstration helped German company PC-Aero, which developed the plane, cement its bid for the coveted Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize.

elektra one 2  Elektra One Wins Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize at Oshkosh(Image: Jean-Marie Urlacher/Info-Pilot, via PC-Aero)

Designed by Calin Gologan and with a range of 500 km, the Elektra One is a single-seat electric aircraft capable of flying with batteries for up to four hours. The plane works in conjunction with a Solar Hangar (known as SunAirport), sponsored by SolarWorld, one of the world’s largest solar panel companies.

elektra one 3  Elektra One Wins Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize at Oshkosh(Image: Michael Mularski, SolarWorld)

Practically silent, Elektra One uses only 6 kW per hour and combines zero emissions with low operating costs. Treehugger reported in March that the company hoped to commercialise its technology: “The complete system (Aircraft + Solar-Hangar) will come on the market for less than 100.000 EUR. The operation cost per hour is less than 35 EUR or 0.2 EUR/km.”

(All images reproduced courtesy of PC-Aero)

Plane Spotting: Storm Climb’s New Weekly Link Round-up

boeing x 20  Plane Spotting: Storm Climb’s New Weekly Link Round-up(Image: NASA, public domain)

Welcome to Plane Spotting, a new weekly link round-up article from Storm Climb.  We chose the name based on our passion for aviation combined with finding – or spotting – fascinating stories from aircraft websites, blogs, magazines across the internet.  Here are 11 interesting stories to get us started, but please do get in touch if you know of anything you feel we should cover.  Until then, enjoy!

9 Lost and Found Airplanes (Mental Floss)

Abandoned World War Two Aircraft in the Pacific (Pacific Wrecks)

Top Secret Technology Demonstrator Aircraft that are Now Declassified (Urban Ghosts)

12 Awesome Hot Air Balloons (Oddee)

Takeoff Mistakes: The Critical Minute (Plane & Pilot)

Big Fuel Savings Demand New Configurations (Aviation Week & Space Technology)

Loser X-Planes (Air & Space Magazine)

Top Secret Aircraft and Classified Technology (Beyond Black Projects)

Splendid Abandoned Airplanes (Dark Roasted Blend)

The Wing House is Complete (re-nest)

Retired 747 Airplane Transformed into Striking Malibu Home (inhabitat)

Little Nellie: James Bond’s Autogyro

little nellie autogyro2  Little Nellie: James Bond’s Autogyro(Image: Hannibal, public domain)

Film enthusiasts may recognise the autogyro (also known as gyrocopter) above as Little Nellie, the craft flown by James Bond in the Sean Connery film You Only Live Twice.  Nellie, a Wallis WA-116 Agile, is pictured here with owner Wing Commander Ken Wallis, a retired RAF officer and leading authority on gyrocopters.

little nellie autogyro 2  Little Nellie: James Bond’s Autogyro(Image: Dave McLear, cc-3.0)

Wallis piloted Little Nellie, kitted-out with an assortment of mock-up weaponry, in an aerial sequence pitching Bond against several SPECTRE helicopters.  While Bond was – of course – victorious, filming wasn’t easy.  Wallis almost crashed onto the camera on several occasions, while a look-down shot ended when cameraman John Jordan’s foot was severed by the autogyro’s rotor.

little nellie autogyro 3  Little Nellie: James Bond’s Autogyro(Image: Les Chatfield, cc-3.0)

According to Wallis, his autogyros were produced for “reconnaissance, research and development, surveillance and military purposes”, and are not available to enthusiasts (other than in model form, above).  Several of his designs are set to appear in the upcoming documentary Into the Wind, featuring the experiences and memories of Bomber Command aircrew.  (More on Little Nellie here.)

(Fun fact about You Only Live Twice – the screenplay was written by Roald Dahl.)

Rutan Long-EZ: The Ultimate Homebuilt Aircraft?

long ez  Rutan Long-EZ: The Ultimate Homebuilt Aircraft?(Image: Arpingstone, public domain)

In the eccentric world of homebuilt aircraft, they don’t come much more sleek than the Rutan Model 61 Long-EZ.  The design may look modern, but the prototype (derived from the VariEze) first flew in June 1979.  Built by the Rutan Aircraft Factory (now called Scaled Composites and owned by Northrop Grumman), the Long-EZ has a range of 2,000 miles with 700 airframes registered with the FAA as of 2005.

long ez 2  Rutan Long-EZ: The Ultimate Homebuilt Aircraft?(Image: NOAA, public domain)

Sporting canards forward of the cockpit and wing-tip rudders, the pilot sits in a semi-reclined position and controls the aircraft with a side-stick, in a similar manner to the F-16.  With an additional fuel tank instead of a passenger seat, the little homebuilt aircraft can achieve an impressive range of 4,800 miles.

ez rocket  Rutan Long-EZ: The Ultimate Homebuilt Aircraft?(Image: Alan Radecki, cc-sa-3.0)

Dick Rutan and test pilot Mike Melvill flew two Long-EZs around the world, staying aloft for over 14 hours on some legs.  A follow-on to the rocket engine powered EZ-Rocket technology demonstrator (above), called the Mark-1 X-Racer, was considered for the Rocket Racing League, but ultimately lost out to the Velocity SE.

long ez 3  Rutan Long-EZ: The Ultimate Homebuilt Aircraft?(Image: Guinnog, cc-sa-3.0)

Several Long-EZ aircraft have crashed over the years, including one notable accident on October 12, 1997, which killed singer-songwriter John Denver.  While Denver was an experienced pilot, the cause of the crash was attributed to a faulty fuel selector valve exaccerbated by Denver’s unfamiliarity with the aircraft.

rutan long ez  Rutan Long-EZ: The Ultimate Homebuilt Aircraft?(Image: Arpingstone, public domain)

A similar design supposedly built by TASK Research, known as the TASK Vantage, has been linked to a classified project conducted on behalf of Northrop.  This experimental aircraft, resembling the Long-EZ, is said to have been fitted with a Williams F107 turbofan engine around 1993.  Interestingly, the TASK Vantage appears on the FAA Register as owned by Scaled Composites, although its current whereabouts are unknown.

The Sky’s the Limit: FlyNano Launches Eco-Friendly Personal Sea Plane

flynano sea plane  The Sky’s the Limit: FlyNano Launches Eco-Friendly Personal Sea Plane(All images via FlyNano)

The Coolist recently featured these super sleek sea planes designed for anyone who wants to lift off cleanly from water to sky for a relatively modest $36,000. The low-cost craft will feature sea-friendly hull, conjoined wings and small propeller-powered engine above the cockpit. Manufactured by FlyNano, the craft come in three different models and have a maximum ceiling of two miles.

flynano plane  The Sky’s the Limit: FlyNano Launches Eco-Friendly Personal Sea Plane

Two basic versions are available with either electric motor or combustion engine, along with a souped-up model with increased range, speed and ceiling. The electric FlyNano E200 can cruise quietly at around 90 mph with a range of 25 miles per charge. While the combustion variant can manage an extra 18 miles, the environmental and economic benefits of the E200 make it Storm Climb’s model of choice.

flynano g 240  The Sky’s the Limit: FlyNano Launches Eco-Friendly Personal Sea Plane

For a few (thousand) dollars more ($39,400), the high performance FlyNano R300 model will take you higher and faster, but in The Coolist’s words: “We would gladly sacrifice a few miles an hour just to be able to try one of these machines”. Storm Climb seconds this, and echoes the call to FlyNano that there are eager test pilots willing to risk it all for the chance to soar two miles high on a jet ski.

flynano e200 g240 r 300  The Sky’s the Limit: FlyNano Launches Eco-Friendly Personal Sea Plane

FlyNano is a European-based company. Their E200, G240 and R260/300 series all come in nicely coded colours, from green (enviro) to yellow (gas) and red (fast). The sea planes were launched at Aero 2011 with deliveries set to begin this summer. Transport and storage trailers are available from $7,900. If you’ve ordered one, be sure to let us know how it goes!