One of the best parts of attending AERO Friedrichshafen is to see how our fellow aviators from other countries tackle the universal topics of performance, safety, regulations, noise, cost, and fun in devising means to get airborne. This year, my personal favorite new aircraft was “Woopy Fly,” an inflatable weight-shift, electric-powered sort-of trike from the congenial Laurent de Kalbermatten of Aigle, Switzerland.
Concerned about the safety of parasailing envelopes, he sought a means to add a load bearing structure inside the sail. In 10 years of study, R/C model tests, and even highly-detailed aerodynamic calculations with the help of scientists at M.I.T., he developed the “Woopy” system.
Woopy consists of a closed envelop of light sailcloth with an internal aluminum and carbon fiber spar. On the ground, it is inflated with two small electric fans embedded — along with the small rechargeable batteries that power them — within the wings. During flight, ram air keeps the wing rigid. Check valves in the inlet of the fans prevent loss of pressure should one or the other fan stop working.
De Kalbermattan has developed a simple “Woopy Jump” hang glider that is popular on ski slopes to extend a skier’s jump, and the “Woopy Fly” trike powered by a small two-stroke engine or an electric motor.
He explained that the Woopy Fly fulfills his “one hour concept”: “During your lunch hour you can drive from your office to an open field, unpack and inflate Woopy, fly around for 20 minutes, deflate and pack everything back into the trunk of your car, and then return to your office, with a smile on your face.”
For more information: Woopy-Fly.com