German Electric PPG Event

Press Release: translation by Stefan Obenauer from Helix website. Sent by Matt Unger

In the course of the German Powered Paragliding Cup/Convention (Deutscher Motorschirm Pokal, DMP) the pratical use of electric powered paragliders was tested in flight.

The company Helix-Carbon GmbH offered rewards for achieving the best performance in each of the following three categories:

  • Highest altitude reached

  • Longest distance

  • Best low flight handling

On Wednesday, May 16th 2007, two teams with ready-to-fly motors showed up and also a team from France with a running motor, but not ready for flight. On that day several demo flights with the two motors showed impressively how low the noise level is with these engines. Test pilot Walter Holzmüller had tremendous fun carving corners on a 14m2 special paraglider from NOVA.

Participating in the competition were two completely different constructions:

  1. Team Helix with a rather traditional DC motor as a shrunk-on-disk rotor and a nominally higher capacity (1764wh) mounted in a Fresh-Breeze motor frame; weight 31.5kg (69.3lbs)

  2. Team Dr. Eng. Werner Eck with a brushless AC motor and a lightweight construction intended to serve the market for soaring flights; 20kg (44lbs), capacity 1230wh

Both motors forbear the use of energy loosing redrives and drive the prop directly.

On Thursday for determining the longest distance the pilots had to fly a pylon race around the landing strip of the Crawinkel airfield. Both PPGs were supposed to take off at the same time and then fly as many rounds as possible at low altitude.

Pilot Richard Krüger-Sprengel of team Helix had already managed 2 rounds before team Eck after some take off issues (it was nearly nil wind) joined in. Richard managed 5 rounds before running out of gas.

Pilot Andreas Kolb continued flying for another 4 rounds. He then had to drop out due to a technical defect (a very decorative trail of smoke followed him to his touch-down spot). Since the motor was designed mainly for climb-out (thermal entry) it had trouble with the mid-range and overheated during the long level flight.

Friday the clover leaf course was set up as part of the German PPG Cup (DMP). For this task, a course looking like a clover leaf has to be flown just above the ground in the shortest time possible. The typical time for one run is between one and two minutes.

As the task was canceled for the cup competition pilots due to high winds the electric ones declined as well.

Saturday after the thermals ceased completely around 7pm the conditions were optimal for evaluating the maximum altitude.

Unfortunately team Eck was not able to correct the technical defect in the regulating system. This left team Helix as the sole competitor. Relying on their huge pool of resources as a prop manufacturer they decided to go with a long, thin prop with a diameter of 180cm (71") instead of the previously used 120cm (47") one.

Right at the time for the first try even the last bit of helping wind ceased and Walter Holzmüller was faced with quite a bit of a challenge due to the enormous prop cage which makes running extremely difficult.

The take-off run bore a resemblance to a similarly, though bigger scale pioneering project. Like the Voyager taking off for its Around-the-World flight that dragged its winglets on the ground, Holzmüller involuntarily shortened the prop on each side by about 6cm (2.5").

Showing his skills during an instant repair job Krüger-Sprengel had the prop tips ready to fly again in no time. Thanks again to the spectator who helped out with providing his pocket knife.

In the end the take-off was successful under a NOVA high performance wing.

The climb rate of 2.2m/sec (435ft/min) was pretty impressive considering the pleasant noise level. During the 22 minute long flight the pilot almost reached cloud base.

The maximum altitude achieved was 838m AGL (2765 feet AGL).

Thanks to Stefan Obenauer for the Translation. Stefan is highly experienced paramotor pilot who lived in Michigan for years but now lives in Germany. He speaks both languages fluently.