Eric Lindbergh, grandson of Charles A. Lindbergh, awarded the LEAP Prize to Pipistrel’s Ivo Boscarol at the just-finished Aero General Aviation convention in Friedrichshafen, Germany. *** The 3rd annual e-Flight gathering took place there also, and Lindbergh’s Best Electric Aircraft award went to Pipistrel’s Taurus Electro. *** There were some notable challengers in the category and three finalists: the Taurus, the Electric Cri-Cri (power by Electravia), and Eric Raymond’s Sunseeker II solar airplane. *** Also awarded was the Best Electric Propulsion. The two finalists were the LZ Design FES (Front Engine Sustainer) system and the Rapid 200 Fuel Cell propulsion system from Polytechnic Torino. *** The LZ FES was the winner. *** The LEAP 2011 Outstanding Achievement Award went to Bertrand Piccard, Andre Borschberg and the Solar Impulse Team for its electric around-the-world project airplane. *** A romantic, and apt, spin on the awards is linking today’s electric pioneers to Lucky Lindy’s amazing transatlantic flight in 1927, which pretty much singlehandedly changed the global perception of aviation from a daredevil hobby or foolhardy mail delivery system to the common transportation, recreational and warfare tool it has become. *** It may be years before there is a viable non-motorglider style electric aircraft. Battery density advances are needed, since gasoline still has more than 70 times the energy per pound of the best commercially available batteries today. *** But…it’s coming, and publicity-rich enterprises like the LEAP award are helping fuel public acceptance of the new technology. Meanwhile, we can all have fun thinking about flying for pure enjoyment…on near-silent propulsion. *** And congratulations to all the winners, including Pipistrel for the Taurus Electro, which is the first commercially available electric two-seater aircraft in production. And it sells with a Solar Trailer, which charges the batteries with sun power while the bird is stored. *** Kinda cool.
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