To inspire electricity students, aviation instructor Michael R. Robison brought an electrically powered aircraft to Penn College's Lumley Aviation Center on Friday. The Lange Antares 20E is one of six flying in the United States. The 42-kilowatt motor can lift the aircraft to nearly 10,000 feet. Once at altitude, the motor and propeller automatically retract, and the aircraft soars with a 55:1 glide ratio. That means the aircraft can glide approximately 100 miles after the motor has lifted the aircraft to maximum altitude. The plane is equipped with electronic flight instrumentation, communication and collision avoidance equipment. Robison demonstrated the motor, deployment mechanism, retraction mechanism and flight controls before taking off. Because the aircraft is nearly silent, the students could hear the tower call Robison to confirm he was able to depart under his own power. After making a few circuits of the Williamsport Regional Airport traffic pattern, he landed and returned to the Aviation Center. To save weight, the aircraft is equipped with a single, large retractable landing wheel. Small wheels on the wingtips prevent them from scraping the runway.
Photos by Thomas D. Inman, associate professor of aviation