A modified version of a Pipistrel Virus owned by Vance Turner of Rescue, Calif., was the big winner in the first Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) Challenge held earlier this month at Charles Schultz-Sonoma County Airport (STS) near Santa Rosa, Calif.
NASA put up $250,000 in prize money for the inaugural event, which was hosted by the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation. The challenge promotes the use of self-operated, personal aircraft for fast, safe, efficient, affordable, environmentally friendly and comfortable on-demand transportation as a solution to America’s future mobility needs. Modeled after the X Prize competition, it aims to stimulate private sector innovation and progress in PAV performance.
The Slovenian-built Pipistrel, piloted by Michael Coates, won the $100,000 Vantage (overall best) prize, the $25,000 CAFE Efficiency prize, the $25,000 Short Runway prize and $10,000 for second place in the Top Speed prize.
Other awards included the $50,000 Noise prize and the $15,000 Top Speed prize won by Dave and Diane Anders of Visalia, Calif., who entered their modified Van’s RV-4; and the $25,000 Handling Qualities prize won by John Rehn of Santa Rosa, and his Cessna 172.
The CAFE Foundation is a group of volunteer flight-test engineers operating as the world’s only flight-test center for experimental aircraft.
This year’s competition established baselines for more difficult standards in place for next year, when total prize money will increase to $300,000. NASA has earmarked a total of $2 million for the five-year program.
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