Dr. Steve Morris is President of MLB Co., an enterprise specializing in low-cost, compact, remotely piloted and autonomous aerial surveillance, mapping and monitoring systems. On December 23, 2009, he and his associates test flew their first man-carrying, directly-piloted craft – an electric one.
Pilot Brian Porter made two flights totalling about 20 minutes in a part 103 ultralight Swift hang glider to which was attached a custom-built pilot/powerplant/landing gear module. Power was by a Randall Fisher-supplied ElectraFlyer motor coupled to a reduction system built by Dr. Morris and his associates at MLB.
Despite limitation imposed by the motor controller’s maximum current and propeller efficiency limited to 65-75 percent, the airplane demonstrated performance within 10 percent of calculations. Its rate of climb was 335 feet per minute, maximum level flight speed was 60 miles per hour, and it cruised on 4.6 kW. Duration, range, rate of climb, and lift:drag are expected to improve when a pilot fairing streamlines the very open cockpit on the current version.
Dr. Morris will present his paper on these early experiments at the CAFE Foundation’s Fourth Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium – all the more reason to attend.