My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Alternative Energy and Aviation - Of Airplanes and the Sun God Ra

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Alternative Energy and Aviation - Of Airplanes and the Sun God Ra

Some ladies now make pretty songs
And some make pretty nurses
Some men are good for righting wrongs
And some for writing verses

R. Locker-Lampson, The Jester’s Plea

The Zephyr is a game changer, like the Apple iPad. It seems new world records are going to be in the Record Books, which is worth a bottle of Guinness, pun deliberately intended, as this next news article leaves me without words to write or speak. 

History has been made folks!!

The longest unmanned flight ever in history was achieved by a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), the Zephyr, designed by Qinetiq Company out in the Arizona Desert right beside the Farnborough International Airshow in July 2010 AD as stated in the article “'Eternal plane' returns to earth”, published 23 July 2010 last updated at 14:48 GMT, BBC News, Science and Environment.

Return to Earth John Public must as this is unbelievable. Three hundred and thirty six hours and 24 minutes (336 hrs, 24 min) of unmanned, un-refueled flight, beating out the thirty hour and twenty four minutes (30hr 24min) unmanned, un-refueled flight set by Northrop Grumman's RQ-4A Global Hawk in 2001 and even the manned, un-refueled flight in the Voyager a bicycle/solar powered flight by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager in 1986 of two hundred and sixteen hours (216 hrs).

Andre Borschberg became the first person to pilot a manned un-refueled solar plane through the night as stated in the article “Solar 24-hour test flight starts”, published Wednesday July 7th 2010, BBC News which ended successfully as stated in the article “Solar plane's night test success”, published Thursday July 8th 2010, BBC News a foreboding of things to come.

 It speaks of a world of flight using solar power and if anything, this early test with a successful night flight may bode well for the development of commercial aircraft that are completely solar powered in the future. No doubt the solar panels are designed to use ambient light from the Visible Spectrum as well as Radiation in the UV (Ultra-Voilet), IR (Infra-Red) and other non-visible spectrum, unless the aircraft plans to fly in the upper stratosphere all the time above the clouds where the Sun is always shining.

An ancient wrong that started with the engine powered flight by the Wright Brothers in 1888 has been righted: we are truly like the birds again.

This bit of history occurred on a week full of news of Apple and their bumpers (who knew a complementary smart phone must-have that Blackberry already gives away free could make the news?) and Apple analysts, suppliers and Analysts themselves still surprised at the amazing demand for their latest toys, all deserving of a separate article by itself.

The history part is in aviation, a technology treasure trove that for me was pretty much unexplored until news began surfacing of Aviation going Alternative in terms of its fuel source. As is always the case, the US Military has the jump on everyone, being the ultimate early-adopters, with the development of their fuel-cell powered spy plane back in 2009 as stated in the article “Fuel efficient spy plane for sale”, published August 6, 2009 7:51 AM PDT by Candace Lombardi, CNET News - Planetary Gear.

This year, a similar development seen as a herald for the era of aviation without the need for conventional fuels was seen with the flight of the Phantom as stated in the article “Phantom Eye 'spy plane' unveiled”, published Thursday July 15 2010, BBC News in the same class but not even close.

It seems that the stars always come out to shine at the Farnborough International Airshow, the annual carnival for those into Aviation Technology and now a new arena of interest for John Public, as the lines of Alternative Energy and Aviation are being crossed, with some promising results thus far. The Qinetiq Company’s flight of their solar powered UAV, the Zephyr, in a non-stop, two (2) week flight over a US Military Test range will go down in history as being the longest endurance flight of all time, both for a manned and an unmanned vehicle.

A technical dissection of this achievement is unnecessary, as this vehicle has proven itself beyond a shadow of a doubt, ready to begin its working life. Not only is it a fuel saver for the US Military in terms of its non-usage of fuel and being completely solar powered but interestingly also its wide range of applications, both military and commercial, mainly to do with taking up competitive geo-mapping work from satellites, which are not stationary and must take awhile to pass over a specific target area to take photographs, its main commercial application.

This is not even mentioning its use in aerial reconnaissance and aerial warfare or even the future of aviation, which may involve commercial aircraft that are solar powered, requiring no fuel be it LNG, Jet fuel or even hydrogen for fuel cells.

This, like the Apple iPad for computing and the Nissan Leaf for automobiles is not just a flash-in-the-pan innovation. This is a game changer, as it means there is a future, both in manned and unmanned flight for airplanes without conventional fossil fuels.

A grievous wrong against the skies has been righted, as we are now truly brothers with our flying compatriot’s birds, who as humans we have envied and emulated so long with polluting combustion engine powered flight. Now we are flying freely without polluting our airways.

And ironically Big Oil is nowhere to be seen in terms of the funding for this technology………..

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