Gliders may seem girly, until you consider that we basically landed an entire army with parachutes and gliders during World War II’s Operation Market Garden. So a diesel-powered plane with glider-like efficiency might be just what we need.
With five seats and a 200 horsepower engine, the Synergy concept will tip the scales at just 3,100 pounds. But the real key to its success lies in the wing design, which manages to nearly achieve the efficiency of a glider in a relatively compact package, if preliminary flights with a scale model are to be believed. The designer, John McGinnis, hails from Kalispell, Montana claims that the 32-foot wingspan packs 144 square-feet of wing area, nearly as much as gliders with a 46-foot wingspan. McGinnis hopes to get a full-scale plane built in order to enter the NASA/CAFE Green Flight Challenge, where $1.5 million is up for grabs for the most efficient airplane design.
Air travel sucks these days, and I think it is because of the scale. We’ve got huge planes jam-packed with people, that require huge airports and terminals which means many smaller cities are simply skipped over when it comes to aviation travel. I’d prefer planes that held between 20 and 40 people, comfortably, didn’t fly quite so high, and were able to land at smaller airports in smaller cities. I think that is the future, and who knows, this weird design might actually come into play. Not sure how the diesel engine will work out, but why not, right?
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.