The Electrolite, an electric-powered ultralight.
The Electrolite is a dual-control true single-seat Part 103 ultralight. Its flight characteristics are benign and its low sink rate lets it double as a self-launching glider, while remaining within the Ultralight Rule.
The Electrolite has all-electric power for low-cost, smooth, fume-free and quiet joy in the air. The interchangeable battery pack provides an hour of power, longer than the typical ultralight's dawn patrol or evening sortie. And, because of its feather-like sink rate, you can "throttle back" and thermal at will!
Chip Erwin, lifetime ultralighter, watched the industry get decimated by the FAA's ban on two-seat ultralights in 2008. "Our sport was left to die," he said. "The extinction of these training aircraft created a significant safety issue in primary flight training, as it choked this affordable way into the air. But," he added, "Part 103 remains the purest kind of flying, and I've been looking for a way to stay legal and still provide useful instruction so that new ultralighters can be safe as they transition from 'heavier iron.' With our 'ground-based dual control,' a solo pilot can follow on the stick and rudder, or fly 'with supervision' until he's comfortable flying the craft on his own."
Erwin says his dual-controlled (patent pending) Electrolite is the solution. "By adding servos and an electronic flight control system to the Electrolite, we have created a true, legal ultralight that can be controlled by a flight instructor on the ground as well as by the pilot in the aircraft. This is a perfect solution for a pilot transitioning to an ultralight, as maneuvers can be demonstrated just as if the instructor were sitting alongside. And even more important for a new pilot: the instructor can take full control at any time, even to the point of deploying the [standard] ballistic parachute. Safety has been greatly enhanced with this innovation."
Erwin notes that the ground-based instructor can fully control the ultralight. Helping him is a first-person view from the cockpit, a split-screen view of the pilot, and pilot biometrics transmitted in real time from the craft. "Yes, that means the Electrolite could be flown without anyone in the seat at all – but why miss the fun?" [It's also a different kind of aircraft if unmanned, so, although unmanned flight is technically possible, it is not legal.]
The Electrolite is not just a trainer. "It's every bit an ultralight, with the thrill of open-air flight, slow-flight capabilities, and unlimited visibility. Its electric power offers fresh air, serene flight, and low maintenance as well."
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