PHOTO CAPTION: GL-10 10-rotator experimental VTOL electric airplane in hover test.

GL-10 Electric Airplane Takes Flight

Dubbed 'Greased Lightning,' this experimental electric hybrid unnamed aircraft successful demonstrates multi-engine design.

Published: 08-May-2015

From the early days of flight when the first autogyros, like the one that landed recently on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol Building, successfully demonstrated short take-off and landings, STOL, there's been an ongoing effort to create aircraft that can lift straight off the ground like a helicopter and then fly at high speeds like an airplane. The U.S. military's Osprey VTOL - vertical take-off and landing aircraft is the first series production machines to accomplish that goal using powerful gas turbine-driven rotators mounted on the ends of each wing, which don't pivot.

Now NASA is funding development of an potentially more promising approach called 'Greased Lightning.' The GL-10 is a remote controlled scale model aircraft that uses 10 electric motors, powered by an onboard battery pack. Weighing a maximum of 62 pounds (28.1 kilograms) at take off, it has a 10-foot wingspan (3.05 meters). A future versions with a planned 20 ft span will use a hybrid-electric drive system using small 6 hp diesel engines to spin an onboard generate to keep the batteries charged. Calculations indicate it could loiter in hover position for as much as 24-hours, according to NASA's website.

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