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Fuelventure Offers Efficiency Contest for Homebuilders

By Patrick Panzera, Editor – Experimenter, EAA 555743


October 6, 2011 – With the COPPERSTATE Fly-In at Casa Grande, Arizona, just around the corner it's time to think about Fuelventure 2011. What's Fuelventure? Although it might seem like it, it's not a race - it's a performance evaluation based on fuel economy. With the ever-rising cost of fuel on everyone's mind, Fuelventure is a great way to compare the efficiencies of various airframes in a true, repeatable way - and anyone can compete!

The good news is that many experimental aircraft can match the mileage of a typical economy car. Of those fuel-efficient aircraft, some owners, whose passion is efficiency, can beat the best mileage figures of the of many ground-based hybrid cars. One thing that adds fuel to human passion is pure, red-blooded competition - hence, Fuelventure, a fuel efficiency competition to foster improvements in aircraft efficiency and to promote the positive public image of fuel-efficient aircraft.

The event takes place October 20-22 during COPPERSTATE.Prior to the competition all participants will receive a briefing; pilots and their passengers will be weighed before departing to fly the slower 200-mile course or the faster 400-mile course, which is divided by cruising speed.

Flying for best fuel economy is an art form. It's possible that a superior pilot can beat a more efficient airplane. For example, flying higher is more efficient, but getting there burns more fuel. Leaning the engine at low power settings saves fuel, but good climb rates are not possible.

Strategizing the winds aloft forecast to milk Mother Nature's tailwinds can be beneficial, but changing altitudes burns more fuel. Do you stay low to minimize a head wind but sacrifice the greater, low-altitude fuel flow? Do you ride a tailwind toward the finish line then descend rapidly, or do you give up the stronger tailwind for a cruise descent? The competition runs more on brain power than horsepower.

If you are the proud owner of a fuel-efficient aircraft and you'd like to test your fuel-efficient piloting skills, visit the Fuelventure website where you’ll find information for two competitions. Both will be flown on Saturday morning, October 20; one event will be for aircraft flying 60-119 mph on a 200-mile course and the other for aircraft flying a minimum of 120 mph on a 400-mile course.

Smaller airplanes generally burn less fuel than bigger ones. So to make things more interesting and fair, the competitions are split into weight categories: For both the 200- and 400-mile events, the weight categories are split into three categories: 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) or less, 501-750 kilograms (1,653 pounds), and 751-1,000 kilograms (2,204 pounds).

Fuelventure features two groups of awards; one for miles per gallon and the other that gives credit for passenger payload and speed. The calculation is based on the Comparative Aircraft Fuel Efficiency Foundation's (CAFE) formula. Awards will be given at the awards banquet on Saturday night, October 21.

To compete, register by phone or e-mail (Click here for more information.). Then on Friday, October 21, bring your airplane to COPPERSTATE. Ground control will direct your taxi to the weigh-in area when you request it.

Your plane will be weighed by the Fuelventure crew, then parked in a special area. You can enjoy the fly-in for the remainder of the day and very affordable transportation is provided to and from hotels by the COPPERSTATE volunteers.

 Read about the 2009 event


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