his early days in bamboo-and-plastic-sheet hang gliders—
and his 35 hang-gliding championships—have sustained
his interest in silent flying. When an opportunity came
along to get involved with an electric ultralight aircraft, he
jumped at the chance.
MEETING OF MINDS
The opportunity arose out of a conversation with Tian
Yu at the 2009 AERO Friedrichshafen in Germany. Tian
is a private pilot and head of Shanghai-based Yuneec
International, which sells power packs for model aircraft.
He was in Germany to explore the possibility of entering
the manned-aircraft market with his electric motors.
Naturally, the pair discussed the viability of using a
Yuneec electric motor system on an ultralight aircraft.
Peghiny had just the aircraft: a Flightstar Spyder
ultralight. The Flightstar is a mature design, with more
than 1,000 made worldwide since 1981. Tian agreed. They
would build an e-Spyder suitable for the Yuneec motor
system and fly it at Oshkosh—in three months.
But first, Peghiny had to reduce the weight of the
aircraft. The 20-kW/26.8-hp motor produced less thrust
than the 42- to 48-hp Rotax engines of the conventional
Spyder, and it needed two battery packs, each weighing
26. 4 pounds. Those would have to fit within the aircraft’s
FAR- 103 regulatory empty-weight limit of 254 pounds.
Peghiny looked everywhere to shave pounds. He
incorporated a carbon nose fairing, a lighter windshield,
a smaller-diameter chrome-molybdenum cage, lighter
main and nose gear, smaller wheels, no brakes (which
Peghiny reports as not a problem at all), smaller-diameter
Tom Peghiny jumped at the chance to work with Yuneec and
develop the e-Spyder electric ultralight aircraft.