GL-10 Electric Airplane Takes Flight
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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