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Pipistrel Team Again the Big Winner in NASA GA Technology Challenge

Pipistrel
Vance Turnerís modified Pipistrel Virus won the largest prize - $50,000 - in the 2008 General Aviation Technology Challenge held in Northern California last week. Photo by Stefanie Olsen, courtesy of CNET (www.CNET.com)

August 13, 2008 — NASA handed out a total of $97,000 in prize money at the 2008 General Aviation Technology Challenge held last week at the Charles M. Schultz/Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, California. The competition, managed by the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation, challenged competitors to demonstrate innovations that would lead to aircraft that are safer, more affordable, easier to fly, and also have less of a negative impact on the environment and on the communities that surround airports.

The largest prize awarded - $50,000 for the aircraft with the overall best safety features - went to Vance Turnerís team from El Dorado Hills, California, flying a modified Pipistrel Virus. That team also won prizes for the shortest takeoff distance and best angle of climb and shared the lowest cabin noise prize.

At last yearís NASA Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) Challenge, Turnerís airplane dominated the competition by winning a total of $160,000 in prize money.

A team led by John Dunham of Carson City, Nevada, used a customized Lambada aircraft to win $20,000 for the community noise prize. Pilot Bob Basham, flying a Flight Design-CT, won $3,750 for best glide ratio at 100 mph.

No team was able to exceed the minimum requirement of 30 miles per gallon to grab the $50,000 Green Aviation Prize Ė although all the competitors came close, NASA reported. Unawarded prize money rolls over to next yearís competition, which will have more than $600,000 available.

The GA Technology Challenge is one of seven NASA technology prize competitions, or Centennial Challenges begun in 2005. The Centennial Challenge prizes are offered to independent inventors who work without government support, including small businesses, student groups and individuals.

The prize competitions are targeted at a range of technical challenges that support NASAís missions in aeronautics and space. The goal is to encourage novel solutions from non-traditional sources. For the program, NASA provides the prize money while each of the competitions is managed by an independent allied organization. NASAís Innovative Partnerships Program Office manages the Centennial Challenges program.

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