The springtime AERO Convention, held in Friedricshafen, Germany, hosts a full range of aviation displays - from R/C models (with indoor flying zone), to sport aircraft, to avionics, to sailplanes, to acro planes, through to general and business aviation - each with dedicated exhibit areas and halls. The event was held on a biennial basis through 2009 after which the organizers decided to turn it into an annual event. Nevertheless, most sailplane manufacturers continued to attend only every other year with a notably reduced attendance in 2010 and an anticipated revival in 2011. The upcoming April 13 -16, 2011 convention is expected to have over 600 exhibitors and the normal participation level from sailplane manufacturers.
[SC Editor's Note: Click on any image to see a high resolution version.]
Historically known as the home of Zeppelin dirigibles, the city of Friedrichshafen is located on the shores of Lake Constance in southwestern Germany. The nearest cities with international carrier service are Zurich, Switzerland (about 100km west), Munich, Germany (about 200k east), and Milan, Italy (about 340km south). Taking an eastbound train from Zurich and the Romanshorn ferry across Lake Constance is about the easiest way to get to the show, not to mention an excellent way to fit in a little pre-convention sightseeing .
The convention facilities are at the Friedrichshafen airport (on the north side of the runway from the main terminal) which allows for GA traffic to fly directly to the event. The facilities include a dozen impressive exhibit halls with restaurants and amenities. A large hangar for dirigibles is also on the field. Sailplanes are displayed in exhibit hall A1. Tickets are 15 Euro per day and children 14 and under have free admittance. (see www.aero-expo.com for details)
To help pull through the off-season and whet your appetite for this year’s event, here is a photo flashback (in alphabetical order) of some of the soaring highlights from the 2009 AERO convention. Enjoy!
The Alatus M electric self-launch glider produced by Aerola. The interesting design merges hang glider and sailplane technology. The fabric wings collapse towards the leading edge D-section for transport (compare right and left wings in the image). It is reportedly designed to German LTF/LFG rules and FAA Part 103 ultralight rules.
Akaflieg Darmstadt students Timo Adler, Benedict Krowarz, and Andreas Muth pose with their D43 2-seat side-by-side 18-meter fuselage prototype and the Soteira extraction rocket. The pure glider has a twin-wheel main gear and is intended for training. The Akaflieg Darmstadt display included a special fixture (green color in the image) for measuring test impact loads to the cockpit nose area. The fuselage structure also had two dedicated compartments, to each side of the fuselage just aft of the occupants, for a pair of pilot extraction ballistic recovery parachutes. The system, called Soteira (the Hellenistic name for the Greek savior goddess), includes an oversize cork-shaped or mushroom-like main rocket with a ring of small nozzles under its lip (yellow item in one of the students hands). To operate, the pilot unlatches the canopy in flight and then pulls a deployment handle which disconnects the seatbelts while pyrotechnic charges expel the main rockets clear of the airframe. Once the main rockets are clear, ignition occurs pulling the occupants out of the cockpit and extracting the parachutes from their storage compartments. Impressive developments for sure. I give it an A+.
Steffen Geinitz and Len Schumann of the Akaflieg Stuttgart show their concept model for their Hydrogenius hydrogen-electric sailplane. The actual aircraft is well under construction.
AlbaStar had their prototype AS18M two-seat sailplane on display. This is a lightweight 18m sailplane with tandem seating, single-piece canopy, and self-launching.
Alexander-Schleicher designers Michael Greiner, Martin Heide, and Gerhard Waibel (retired) pose with the prototype fuselage of the new ASH-30Mi Open Class two-seater. Martin has strengthened the cockpit for 53 kg/m2 wing loading and 700kg max takeoff weight and also reworked the airfoil and control surfaces to improve on the ASH-25 performance and handling. Schleicher also had an ASG-29 with a two-cycle sustainer engine on display. Michael explained how he designed the propeller to reduce noise and vibration while improving the climb rate.
AliSport had several powered sailplanes on display. Their 13.3 meter Silent 2 Targa light-sailplane with its unique variable incidence horizontal stabilizer was prominently displayed on a Hangar Caddy. Adjacent to it was a jet-powered self-launcher Silent 2 Targa and a Silent 2 with integrated side-launching ballistic recovery parachute.
From AMS Flight, the LS-4b sailplane and Carat A motorglider. AMS also manufactures the LS-6 series of sailplanes and the future Magnus, Mingus, and Maxus.
Alfred Spindelberger of Cobra Trailer points out hinged holders that swing inboard so that wing extensions can be removed through the front hatch. He and his wife Agnes explained that the big news in trailer design is accommodating the larger multispan gliders in what would typically be considered a 15m trailer chassis length.
Composit Airplanes had their Viva side-by-side two-seat motorglider on display. The glider has a retractable mono-wheel reminiscent of the RF-5 and Europa motorgliders. The intriguing feature was the flush-folding propeller on the nose.
The Banjo light glider was on display at the Deutscher Aero Club stand.
Volker Halbe and DG Flugzeugbau owner Karl-Friedrich Weber pose in front of the latest DG 1001M two-seat self-launcher. The powerplant uses a fuel-injected two-cylinder Solo engine driving the propeller via a steel chain and sprockets instead of the typical reinforced rubber belts and pulleys as seen in most installations. Upon seeing our surprise, Volker joked that this might be the first time since the Wright Flyer. Joke aside, the motorcycle world has used chains for years in more demanding applications so it should be a direct alternative. Volker explained that the landing gear was electric (with an emergency release system) and that the cockpit was very spacious. DG also had their new 808C single-seater on display with special features for competition: bug wiper garage, noah exit system, Piggott airbrake hook, and dump tank.
Jakub Vimr, head of marketing at HpH, poses with the prototype 304M. He explained that the 304M uses the Walter Binder self-launch powerplant with the Solo 2-cylinder engine. The retraction system uses lithium batteries and gives a deployment time of 10 seconds and a retraction time of 8 seconds. Power-on climb is stated at 3.5 meters/sec. Fuel is stored in 30 liter wing tanks which feed into a 17 liter fuselage tank. HpH also had a jet version on display.
Ok, it’s not a glider or even glider related, but this design study (Aeromobil) from Stefan Klein looked a bit surreal - folding wings, retracting front wheels, a swing-forward canopy, and three-bladed pusher prop (with slim ground clearance). No word on whether it is airworthy (or roadworthy).
North American agent for Lange Flugzeugbau, Dave Nadler, poses with the sustainer version of the Antares. The installation uses a Solo two-cycle engine and the landing gear is electric (as on the original Antares). Lange also had their electric self-launcher and pure sailplane versions on display.
Andrej Kolar and Erazem Polutnik of Naviter display the latest version of SeeYou Mobile. They stated that this is the first soaring mobile software that runs on PDAs such as iPAQ Travel Companion and Navigon that use the Windows CE operating system. It opens up a new range of PDA hardware that can be used in the cockpit with the same user interface as before (they commented about the challenges of reprogramming for the CE operating system).
Robert Mudd, New Mexico based representative for Pipistrel, was on hand promoting the Taurus and Apis. Electric and internal combustion versions were on display. Robert reported a strong interest in the electric-powered versions.
Californian inventor and record pilot Eric Raymond was present with his Sunseeker solar-powered aircraft. He was in Europe for a solar-powered tour and assisting with Piccard’s Solar-Impulse project.
This SCE Cirrus 05 simulator had a steady stream of pilots and future pilots lined up for a test flight.
The venerable Scheibe Falke touring motorglider with a Rotax 912 engine. A white Turbo-Falke with a 914 engine was also on display.
Tilo Holighaus of Schempp-Hirth discusses the new Arcus with the author. He conveyed that the fuselage is similar to the Duo with regards to comfort, however it is not interchangeable because of the new wings. He explained that a network of people worked on the project including Dr. Mark Maughmer of Penn State for the winglets and wing airfoil. He did not envision the Arcus as a replacement for the Duo, stating the Arcus is meant for Open Class racing and long cross country flights while the Duo Discus is more suited for the multi-purpose club environment with basic training and early cross country.
Also not a glider, but the two-seat Shark had LED collision-avoidance strobe lighting in the trailing edge of the rudder and in the wingtips. A very clean installation in a retractable-gear sport aircraft with elegant lines and composite finish work almost on par with the sailplane industry. All the exhibit halls had impressive timber roof structures.
The unique Stemme S10 with centrally mounted engine and folding propeller hidden inside a sliding nose cone.
From SZD the Perkoz and Acro. In its full span Standard Class configuration, the SZD-59 Acro reportedly has the same flying qualities and soaring performance as the well known Standard JANTAR, from which it was derived, except with 150 liter water tank capacity and 285 km/h top speed. Removing the wingtips from the SZD-59 transforms into a 13.2 meter, fast-rolling, unlimited acrobatic glider rated to +7/-5 g. The manufacturer claims this is two unique gliders in one. The two-seat SZD-54 Perkoz is also aerobatic and has a span of 20 meters.
TeST had their two-seat TST-14M Bonus self-launcher on display. This is the same aircraft that airshow pilot Bob Carlton of Albuquerque, New Mexico has successfully converted to a jet self-launch using the PBS engine. TeST also had their TST-10M Atlas single-seat self-launcher on display.
Tost Flugzeuggerätebau had a nice display with wheels, tires, tow hooks, and other components.
The Apis2 self-launch light sailplane by Martin Wezel Flugzeugtechnik has a 15m wingspan. The canopy is side-opening and the airframe includes a ballistic recovery parachute. The engine is a single-cylinder Hirth F33 mounted inverted at the upper end of a steel pylon and the carbon-fiber propeller is ground adjustable.
Photos: Leo Benetti-Longhini