Flying on solar wings: (the late) Paul MacCready on

Submitted by Charles Frost on Thu, 11/15/2007 - 23:55.

Helios - A Solar Powered Airplane

An amazing (and quite funny) man, who invented many amazing things, including wind turbines and the EV1 Electric car. The video runs about 21 minutes, so get your popcorn first.


"Paul MacCready -- aircraft designer, environmentalist, and lifelong lover of flight -- talks about his long career. After his record-breaking work on human-powered aircraft in the 1970s, with the Gossamer Condor and Gossamer Albatross, MacCready's attention turned to addressing a problem he calls "Nature vs. Humans." The result: a pioneering electric car, refined alternative energy sources, and (bringing his enthusiasms full circle) a breathtaking solar plane."

About Paul MacCready

Paul MacCready, an aircraft designer and environmentalist, is a pioneer of human-powered flight,... Read full bio »




Bill, great photo -

Solar powered flight - since we can do that, we can do solar powered land trans for certain. 

The swoop of this wing is structurally (weight vs wing length) critical.   But you don't see this swoop on conventional aircraft. 

We need to devote similar inovation to wind turbines and surface transportation.

Architectural Wind (From Paul MacCready' AeroVironment web site)

"AV developed a small, modular wind turbine system designed for installation on buildings in urban and suburban areas. By eliminating the support tower, reducing noise and vibration, and creating a sleek and adaptable, modular housing that installs quickly and easily onto buildings, without penetrating the roof, AV defines a new category of wind energy systems that adds value to buildings and demonstrates clean energy at work.

With a sleek, color-matched series of specially designed, highly efficient and low profile wind turbines, property owners can integrate Architectural Wind™ systems easily into new and existing buildings.

Whereas photovoltaic systems are typically located on rooftops, out of sight, Architectural Wind is designed to install easily onto the building parapet, operating in plain site as an attractive complement to the building's architecture. Additionally, based on its proprietary system design, Architectural Wind turbines rotate at low wind speeds, resulting in a form of "kinetic architecture" that communicates clearly the generation of clean energy. Working alone or in tandem with other renewable energy technologies, Architectural Wind is designed to offer an attractive ROI and cost per kW of installed capacity."



...There were three of these on one of the houses at the Solar Decathelon when I went to see them in D.C. back in October. They looked good, but there was no wind that day, so I couldn't see them in operation :-(
There are also some links to brochures and articles about their wind turbines on their web page.

cleveland buildings take off

"Fly me." Wasn't that an ad for some air carrier some time back? Imagine if many Cleveland buildings added this technology and instead of Cleveland +, we had "Fly Cleveland"? "Cleveland is about to take off, it may be in the Midwest, but with its eyes on the prize of supplying renewable energy products and services to the world, it is about to take off -- literally! Locate in a green city on a blue lake. Relocate or just visit a windy city on a Great Lake (and I don't mean windy because of the hot air the politicians blow). Cleveland is in the path of the jet stream weather patterns as well -- Cleveland is putting them to good use.
Surrounded by some of the richest farmland in the US, local food here is abundant, jobs in the new energy sector are off the charts and the legacy of a rich arts and cultural environment continues to flourish undisturbed. Education has rebounded in public schools and the city's safe streets program that grew out of grassroots neighborhood watches despite diminishing returns in the police departments has effected a turnaround in safety in the city's diverse neighborhoods. What a place to raise a family, enjoy local foods and parkland, paddle the inner harbor or the river at sunset and get back to work the next day. Fly Cleveland."

It is time we got better grades in all these subjects

  • air quality
  • stormwater management
  • clean water
  • greenspace and parks
  • public transportation
  • passenger rail service
  • renewable energy standards
  • manufacturing expertise (not just moribund infrastructure and management of manufacturing)
  • tourism
  • local food resources
  • what else?

It's time for Cleveland to do an about face. Imagine Cleveland about to take off. It has all the right ingredients, just not the right cooks in the kitchen yet.