Improved Flight

Improved Flight

The DeltaWing is thought to be the most efficient racecar in history. It has an ultralight carbon-fiber body that weighs in at just over 1,000 pounds (sans driver and fuel) and is nearly half the weight of conventional Le Mans prototypes. In June of 2012 it came close to blowing away the racing world at the 24 Hours of Le Mans when it filled the 56th entry -- the demonstration slot for experimental vehicles. As an answer to the pundits, Ben Bowlby, the car’s designer, summed up that The DeltaWing can move just as fast but with half the weight, half the drag, half the power and half the fuel consumption. It reminds us of the versatility, capability and efficiency of the PC-12, and how George Antoniadis challenged conventional wisdom when he chose to use it for the PlaneSense program fleet. Similar to the perception that The DeltaWing could not compete effectively against more powerful, traditional race cars, many “experts” thought the PC-12 would not be competitive with jets.

Popular Science referred to The DeltaWing as a transformative racecar design. It was great to see this engineering marvel push the envelope of racing through 75 laps at Le Mans and a few months later finish fifth in its North American debut at the 1000-mile,10-hour Petit Le Mans. The most rewarding moment for The DeltaWing team came when the American Le Mans Series and IMSA announced that the car will be classified to run for points in 2013. With four Michelins seemingly glued to the ground, The DeltaWing is quickly becoming another great story about the technical possibilities of flying in a more thoughtful manner.


Note: This article is displaying as it appeared in Volume 10 of our PlaneSense: Informational Quarterly newsletter.
Photo courtesy of deltawingracing.com

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