A jet powered glider was featured during the 2009 Airventure air show and while it worked flawlessly, I thought it somewhat strange. Normally you put jet engines on things you want to go fast, like planes, cars and outhouses. Gliders are supposed to …glide. Still, the glider I previously flew required towing and I thought it would be good to have a back up plan if you found yourself far from home base and running out of thermals and altitude. Schleicher developed a self powered motor glider which has a self stowing prop. Not a bad idea if you run out of lift or don’t have a tow plane. But back to the jet engines: Desert Aerospace is working toward certification of the self-launching sailplane. (Sailplane is a high performance glider)
BonusJet features a jet engine that can be retracted into the fuselage for high performance cross-country soaring. The jet engine can be extended and restarted in flight. The start sequence is fully automatic, requiring only the flick of a switch by the pilot.
Jet engines are typically very reliable but don’t have the ability to provide instant power in a pinch. They take time to spool up. We’ll see if the idea takes off. It has the potential to be the highest performing civilian glider of all time. A military version has been around since the 1950’s. While the Dragon Lady is a handful to fly, it’s been a terrific success.
The rocket powered model has already been tried and it hasn’t had strong reviews.