World Records for solar flight champ
September 12th, Gap, France: One of modern aviation’s most prolific record setters1 has chalked up another distance milestone in the final weekend of his European season. The record belongs in the category “Solar-powered Aeroplanes” as defined by the FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale).
German pilot Klaus Ohlmann already had 46 records to his name. He added to this trove on Saturday [September 10] with a 439km “Distance using up to 3 turn points” flight in the Alpes Maritimes in Southern France, this time aboard Seiko-icaré 2. In August he set a record in the “Out-and-return distance” of 384.4km, more than doubling his own previous record.
In a frenetic weekend trying to outdo himself, Ohlmann raced against the weather clock and a date with a racing commitment stateside.
He said: “Obviously I wanted just one more go at it before the autumn, and this was the perfect ending.”
“When you put pressure on yourselves like this, you have to be careful not to take risks and to do everything right, but the weather was with us and that made the difference.”
Seiko-icaré 2 is a solar powered glider built by a team at the University of Stuttgart and sponsored by the Japanese manufacturer, whose solar-powered watches are particularly successful on the US market. The technological innovations by the Stuttgart team have shown that solar flight is an achievable goal for small aircraft, even in the near future.
Seiko-icaré 2 generates all its energy from photovoltaic cells, which provide enough thrust to take off without the help of a towing plane. The pilot can alternate between soaring and powered flight whilst aloft.
He said: “Gliders are already extraordinarily efficient machines, and this is a new and almost inevitable step, not only exploiting the air heated by the sun, but also transforming the sun’s rays into electric energy.
“It opens new possibilities and I am determined to add some records to my collection.”