Probably stupid question but - motor glider for normal personal aviation travel

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Geno

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Feasibility? Not really fast per se but 110 mph at 115MPG makes for pretty economical air travel it would seem. Combine that with a very wide and seemingly comfortable cockpit and the Mrs. would be much more likely to join me.

Hi everyone - new here. Really interesting place you have. I'm surprised the search feature didn't overheat on me the last few days. Lots of great info.
 

Vigilant1

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Welcome Geno!

It can be done, and be fun, but motorgliders aren't ideal traveling machines for most people. They generally have a low wing loading and that makes for bumpy flying if things are at all "choppy" or gusty. This kind of motion, especially on a warm day, can be uncomfortable and lead to motion sickness, especially in the passenger and on a long flight.
But, a motorglider can sip fuel and be fun flying otherwise.
Sutability will depend a lot on individual factors.
 
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Geno

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Yeah - I was checking the math and I was coming up with 31. I copied that 150 from the Whisper Motor Glider specs on their page. Maybe they're including gliding in that, I don't know. I wish they had a US distributer for them - 10kish per kit is awfully tempting. They seem to be crazy strong aircraft too. I have a friend in South Africa who could pick it up for me but me going over for a year or two to build it would be out of the question at the moment. I sent the US distributer of the Whisper X-350 an email asking if they plan to stock the motor glider kits.
 
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Brünner

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Feasibility? Not really fast per se but 110 mph at 115MPG makes for pretty economical air travel it would seem. Combine that with a very wide and seemingly comfortable cockpit and the Mrs. would be much more likely to join me.

Hi everyone - new here. Really interesting place you have. I'm surprised the search feature didn't overheat on me the last few days. Lots of great info.
Welcome to the forum.
If speed is not really an issue to you, it is feasible. Check also the baggage compartment with the weight limits, if it's enough for your mission profile.
But yeah, motorgliding is probably the cheapest personal air travel.
 

AllenW

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You might want to check out the Pipistrel Virus SW. Pipistrel made two moto rgliders which are essentially identical but for their wing span: The Sinus with a 50 foot wingspan, and a Virus with a 40 ft wing span. The standard engine is an 80 HP Rotax Then someone took a Virus, shortened the wing span to 35 feet, beefed up strucure with carbon fiber, and put a 100 HP Rotax in it, creating the Virus SW (for Short Wing, obviously) It won the 2007 CAFÉ Foundation’s Inaugural NASA PAV Centennial Challenge (cafe.foundation/v2/pav_pavchallenge_2007_results.php) and the 2008 CAFÉ Foundation NASA PAV General Aviation Technology Challenge.

I built a VirusSW from a kit version, but Pipistrel does not really support their kits builders very well... they are really focused on selling ready tot fly aircraft. They sold something like 200 of a version of the Virus SW to the Indian military to be a primary flight training aircraft. And now they have a certified version ( the Virus SW 121, certified in Europe, not yet in the US). And then they put bateries and an elecric motor in basically the same fuselage, and it became the world's first electric aircraft in production, the Pipistrel Alpha Electro. And now, recently, it was announced that Pipistrel is being purchased by Textron.

But I digress: Why should you look into the Pipistrel Virus SW motorglider if you are interested in flying cross country? Look at the specs:


140-147 knots Cruise speed with Rotax 912is 100hp engine at about 3.5 gph (about 4.7 gph for carbureted engine) (higher cruise speed is for tailwheel version) (162 knots VNE)

You can also get the Rotax 914 115 HP turbocharged engine to help with scooting across the country at high speed.

Almost 700 pounds of useful load.

25 gallon fuel capacity will give about 800 NM range.

For more info:


I've made long cross country trips in both my former Virus SW and in my current Sinus. For cross country touring, the Virus SW is probably the way to go. BUT.... they are both smaller and more constraining than the Piper Arrow I used to own. It's harder to stretch and move around to be more comfortable. You certainly can't do as my wife used to do in our arrow, and crawl into the back, lie down on the rear seat (she's only 5' tall) and catch a cat nap. .
 

TFF

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There is a local Pipistrel. It is a cool airplane. It is based at another airport and have a friend that flies it some, but I saw the owner fly it to our airport one day. When the friend flies it in, he brings it to our hangar which has a dead end taxiway that is like a free ramp for us. No problem parking or turning around. The owner tried to taxi through the regular ramp, and the wingspan was too long to judge, so he and his passenger had to get out and walk it through the ramp of planes to be safe. It’s not a big issue, but it is something you will have to plan for when going to new fields. An efficient plane is great, but if that’s the only criteria it will be hard to manage.
 

Vigilant1

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Worth consideration by the OP from a practical standpoint: You didn't mention where you plan to keep your plane (in a glider trailer, tied down, etc). Hangar costs and availability are an issue in many places. The largest number of inexpensive hangars have door widths of 40 feet or less.
 

Dana

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A friend has a Stemme, he has to stop and get out and fold the wings before proceeding down the taxiway.
 

PiperCruisin

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Most two seat motorgliders get about 30 mpg.
My less-than-efficient Cherokee 140 gets about 16.5 mpg, but I figure it is closer to 21+ to my destinations because I can go in a relatively straight line, if you compare it to car travel. Make me feel a little less bad, but better efficiency of a motor glider would be nice.
 

Geno

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My budget has a minus in front of it 🤪. Being in the air in my own craft is still a pipe dream. I have to start somewhere though. I'm not stuck on any specific design/type (other than inexpensive) and will probably end up with someone's basket case, dirty fingernails, skint knuckles, a wrench in one hand and a caliper in the other for quite some time before I can honestly be ready to fly.

I'm a really good mechanic (vehicular and marine), sort of ok body man, a middling welder and very patient deal hunter/scrounger. We'll see where this pipe dream leads. My ongoing costs would be pretty low it looks like as there are a bunch of tiny podunk airports around and everything is usually less expensive the farther you get from civilization as long as there's still competition. Quincy municipal airport (NW FL) claims they have no tie down fees but I haven't talked to them - just looked at their website.
 

TFF

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No airplane is cheap. That is a reliable statement. What you really need is an airplane that you can finish. Lots don’t get finished. Pick the type of building you want to live with, because you will have to live with it. Aviation materials are expensive so you might as well like the stuff you are working with.

The straight line answer above is the best part of flying to a destination. A 200 mile car drive I make often is 150 by air. Add to that a modest 30-50 mph speed advantage of a slower plane and you have more free time at the destination. Faster plane can turn 150 miles into an hour trip or less. Tie down fees at that airport are probably transient airplanes. Some airports make you pay to park overnight or make you buy fuel. Free to based planes would have every inch occupied.

Airplane cockpits tend to be about the same size plus or minus. You might figure out the comfort your wife will live with. My personal pick for building a budget travel airplane would be the Tailwind. Exactly the opposite of a motoglider. Fast and designed to be buildable with minimal special tools. Aluminum based planes will send you off in a different direction as will composite. You will have to choose a base material you will enjoy.
 

PiperCruisin

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The straight line answer above is the best part of flying to a destination. A 200 mile car drive I make often is 150 by air. Add to that a modest 30-50 mph speed advantage of a slower plane and you have more free time at the destination.

Or not...in a straight line. "Hey, what is that over there? Let's go check it out."

For x-country, slower aircraft can make it painful if you have a significant head wind. Flew across Texas once with a 50+ knot headwind. I watched the same semi for 45 minutes. A good cross-country airplane is probably 150-160 mph minimum for that reason. Otherwise, for me it is more about exploring and looking down on all the sights below me.

Also, if you need to be somewhere on time, don't fly. These little aircraft can be severely limited by bad weather. They have a tough time flying over the weather and few are capable of flying into known icing conditions. Just being realistic.
 

BBerson

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My less-than-efficient Cherokee 140 gets about 16.5 mpg, but I figure it is closer to 21+ to my destinations because I can go in a relatively straight line, if you compare it to car travel. Make me feel a little less bad, but better efficiency of a motor glider would be nice.
I wouldn’t say the motorglider is more efficient. The motorglider (Grob) 30 mpg is at max range at about 80 mph. A Vari Eze has much better mpg. You can get much better range with the Cherokee also. I flew my Cherokee at 50% power or less around 100 mph. With four seats filled the Cherokee has more seat miles per gallon.
 
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TFF

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I’m one for digging the ride and have lots of look and see flying, but when have to be business, straight lines tend to work better. I was just on a flight in a Grumman with a 30 kt headwind. Going home was easy though. I had a long commercial flight just in February that had a 170 kt headwind. We actually had to stop for fuel. How often does that happen?
 

AllenW

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I had a long commercial flight just in February that had a 170 kt headwind. We actually had to stop for fuel.

I was on a military charter flight flying from Guam to Hawaii. At least, that was the original plan. After several hours (4-ish) in the air, as they approached to point of no return....they decided we didn't have enough fuel to safely complete the flight with the higher than expected head wind we were battling, and so they turned around and flew back to Guam. All day in the air... to go no where....
 

raytol

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Welcome Geno, Motorgliding is a very good way to see the country. I had a Grob 109 with a Limbach motor that averaged 95 MPH and 3.36 US gallons per hour over a 40 hour trip. The best thing is to climb to 5000 feet and turn the motor off. Your wife will love the fact that the aircraft doesn't "fall out of the sky" and you fly around for 25 miles or so and then turn the motor back on ( or not) to land. It is slow, especially if you have a headwind but Kingsford-Smith flew all around the world at that speed.
 
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