In full disclosure, I’m really new to the world of aircraft that have a lighter empty weight than my motorcycle. And I’m used to having at least a couple of seats behind me. I recently had the opportunity to join a small group of pilots – those that have flown electric airplanes!
The Pipistrel Velis Electro – is the only certified electric aircraft. This was a full-up, ready-to-buy, take-home and start flying in the national airspace system, not a prototype of something that may be ready and certified in the future.You can find the specs and details on the Pipistrel website but that doesn’t tell you about the experience. Simplicity – the most accurate description of what its like to get started and go. Four switches, some self-tests, a check of available battery charge and spin the prop to make sure all is good and you’re ready. No waiting for the oil to warm, no run-up/mag check /prop manipulation – you get the idea. It was a bit strange sitting at the hold line checking for traffic and getting set to go with no prop spinning out in front. When ready, push the throttle forward, and the prop spins propelling you forward. The application of power is smooth and instant. Airspeed is alive and you notice a little motor whir and the ground passing underneath. It’s quiet! Not silent, but very quiet.
Liftoff comes at about 45kts, climb rate is around 700 – 750 fpm with 1 pilot. Your results may vary – I have only had one flight. Controls are smooth and quick but not twitchy. Small control movements and the aircraft goes where you point it. The wind was a little blustery (central Florida acting like summertime), so I kept it below VA which was 100kts. Stalls were docile as you would expect, recovery straightforward – lower the nose, pick up airspeed, and fly level. The landing was gentle, keep the airspeed under control or you float down the runway. From taxi, out to shut down my flight time was about .8 and consumed 50 -55% of battery power.
Impression: Fun to fly!! If you are close to the practice area, would make a respectable trainer. Obviously, loiter time is limited. I’m looking forward to making more flights and push it a little harder.
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