Brainwashing, Pipistrel style (Report by Charles Dalglish)

Our customer Charles Dalglish wrote a report on his visit to Pipistrel factory.
by Charles Dalglish

I have just come back from Slovenia where Pipistrel made my Sinus Motor Glider. I have always been impressed with my machine, and smugly content that it is the best in the world. I am always amazed how few people get it!

Pipistrel strive to be efficient and green, and I am convinced they lead the world in this department.
I seem to be brainwashed every time I visit Slovenia. Here is a country with only 2,000,000 inhabitants, and yet we sweep through spectacular mountainous countryside on dual carriage roads that tunnel through mountains and perch on concrete stilts over valleys, and tastefully done at that. We cruise at 130 KPH most of the time, but are restricted to 80 KPH through tunnels. When one lives at Little Hartley, one can only feel a little jealous when comparing our Great Western Goat track.

Part of my brainwashing was to let me fly the new Virus Short Wing twice. Having got used to flying my Motor Glider with an indicated speed of 110 Kts and loll-upping around sipping 10.5 litres an hour, knowing I had a VNE of 122Kts, it was truly amazing to be in the same seat and cockpit and now zoom around at 150kts. Now I love my 2 seat Glastar that indicates 126Kts and uses 32 litres per hour to do it, but here I am two up indicating 132 kts and only using 17 litres per hour in this Short Wing Virus. They are so efficient, why hasn't everyone got one!

The Short Wing doesn't leap in the air like a Maule, but it still takes off short. I gave it full power and held the nose up a bit to save the nose wheel as we took off on the grass field and as soon as it launched at 40kts I held it in ground effect to establish 60 kts climb and turn the small propellor knob back to dial in 5,300 RPM from 5,800RPM, I got rid of the flaps and set 80 kts, then finally 100kts climb showing 800.FPM. How do they do this on only a 100 Horse Power Rotax?! The Factory claim a cruise of 150 Kts, and this is where I get disappointed.
Most of my life I just look at the speedo and settle for that number. I know my journey is always different depending on density altitudes, tail winds and weights I am carrying, and above all the cleanliness of the machine. So I call this a 140 kt machine. They call it a 150 kt machine,while you can not accuse them of lying, the machine has to be a tail dragger configuration and it has to be in the winter. I can assure you I saw 132kts indicated at 4000ft and it was 33 degrees on the ground. This gave a GPS true speed of 140kts. 2 years ago this design won the NASA challenge as the most efficient and quiet plane. Now it fits into the new LSA category along with the only side by side self launching Glider, the Taurus.

The factory has been expanded since my first visit and has the latest green technology available. I know about solar panels and am starting to understand geothermal getting temperatures that are cooler and stable from way underground, but they have the entire place run by computers and sell back power from what was the largest solar collectors in Slovenia. Even the lights in the factory are computer controlled, the sunlight in the room is measured before the lights go on, to make sure they don't waste any extra power! Did I tell you no air leaves the factory without being filtered, and there is no dust or oil anywhere. The whole place is as clean as the plate you eat your food off.

I suppose all this started with Ivo Boscarol. Years ago when this place was part of Yugoslavia and private planes and flying was totally prohibited. It is hard to understand this when we come from a society used to small planes freely launching from grass fields all over the world. Ivo went on holiday in Italy his neighboring country years ago and he fell in love with a Trike. He smuggled the wing back as a "tent" and the engine "for his boat" and the frame as a "crane" and then snuck down to the military airfield when he assembled it. The field closed at 6 pm and the security decided to turn a blind eye to his operation. This led to him building more for his friends and they all flew around on dusk every night with torches and lamps, and the locals nick named them The Bats, which is where the name Pipistrel (Latin for "bat") arose from.

Clearly Ivo Boscarol is different. In fact he has a poster of himself leaning on a Virus aircraft and it is captioned "TO BE DIFFERENT, ALWAYS SET YOUR GOALS TOO HIGH".
Ivo was the first person to get a Toyota Prius in Slovenia and will be the first to get a Plug-in Prius this September, and while he is the first company to have a flying electric 2 seat plane, he will be the first person to build a hybrid aeroplane.

The reason for my factory visit was to spy on my next possible aircraft, built by Pipistrel. It was all pretty secret and they did not want anyone taking commercial gain from their development work. While there are no photos, I can say they have a team of 10 people developing the most advanced private 4-seater in the world, and I want one. The trouble is I want it for nothing and yet I see them spending millions on its development. Ivo is no fool when it comes to economics, and I am sure he will bring this project to fruition. It is just a waiting game now. Having been in the developmental office where 6 people were all staring at their computers studying structural stresses and aerodynamics, it was a buzz to see all these geniuses ironing out any potential problems. It is so exciting to be in on the ground floor so to speak.

They do know about Australia, because the designer and test pilot Tine came out to visit a few years ago. They can't work out why more Pipistrels are not sold in Australia. Anyway things might change, and if you want to see a virtual tour of the factory to show I am not making it up, visit the-virtual-tour-around-the-pipistrel-factory

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