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Skies turn green for $1.65 million flight challenge (photos)

NASA is putting up the largest ever prize in aviation and Google is sponsoring the Green Flight Challenge.
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By Andy Smith, Associate Editor on
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The Green Flight Challenge, sponsored by Google, has taken off in Santa Rosa, California in a competition that will award the largest ever prize in aviation. $1.65 million awarded by NASA to the team with with highest scores in the competition. Team aircraft must fly 200 miles in less than two hours using the energy equivalent of less than 1 gallon of gasoline per occupant. There will also be a a bio-fuel prize and a special Lindbergh Prize for Quietest Aircraft.

CAFE (Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency) is conducting the event the event which concludes on Oct. 3. Only 3, PhoEnix, Pipistrel-USA and e-Genius, of the original 13 competitors remain.

On the first day each of the finalists were judged on the noise emitted by their aircraft. Each one passed the tests.

One of the finalists is the e-Genius aircraft run by a team led by Eric Raymond from California. This motorized glider features a 60 kW electric motor with a large diameter propeller (rear).

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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The E-Genius takes off. Partners of E-Genius include Airbus and the University of Stuttgart in Germany.

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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Team members get E-Genius ready before the competiton.

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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The Phoenix Air team, led by Jim Lee from Florida, fly the PhoEnix which is an electric motor glider. It features a modified wing, electric motor, and a retractable landing gear. Here, Phoenix Air team members reattach the wings to their PhoEnix aircraft after pulling it out the weigh-in hanger

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The PhoEnux taking off.

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The Langelaan Aeronautics LLC / Pipistrel-Penn State University from Pennsylvania, is led by Jack Langelaan. Their twin fuselage motor glider, called  the Taurus G4,  features a 145 kW electric motor, lithium-ion batteries, and retractable landing gear.

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The Taurus G4 soars overhead.

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Note the wooden propellor on the Taurus 4.

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The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University team led by Richard Anderson flew in the trials as a non-competitor. This team is located in Florida. Their aircraft is the EcoEagle, a modified Stemme S-10. This motor glider features a 100 hp Rotax 912 engine, bio-fuel, a 40 hp electric generator, and lithium polymer batteries.

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The Eco-Eagle.

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A visiting plane was the Grumann Albatross which was designed in the early 1950s. The Taurus 4 overhead, approaches for landing.

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The Eco-Eagle runs past the Albatross on the make-shift air field.

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The IKE Aerospace team, led by Ira Munn in California is developing the Seraph. Its design features wing body, lift body, and biomimicry. It will use monocoque construction to reduce structural weight and ducted propellers for propulsion efficiency and noise reduction. The Seraph will be powered by twin turbine generated electric engines turning counter-rotating propellers.

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Team Synergy, led by John W. McGinnis from Montana features laminar flow, wake-immersed propulsion, open thermodynamics, subsonic area ruling, composite construction, and five seats.

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