What is it like flying the Pipistrel Velis EV aircraft?

I go for a spin in a Slovenian EV plane. 

Bats and Pipistrel

Ivo Boscarol, the founder of “Pipistrel,” has been actively involved in alternative aviation since 1975, when Slovenia was still a part of the former Yugoslavia. At that time, alternative and microlight flying was illegal – in fact, it did not exist at all. The airfield Ivo was using belonged to the military, so the first alternative pilots, if they wanted to fly, had to do it in secret. They had to wait until the pilots, who flew conventional aircraft, finished flying for the day, locked the hangar and went home, and then tried to sneak in for an hour of flying before the darkness fell. Because they were flying so late in the evening, using lights in front of their alternative aircraft and because the powered hang-gliders had triangular-shaped wings, locals started to call them “bats”.

The Latin word for “bats” is “Pipistrellus”, – and the rest is history.

Where is Pipistrel?

Back in July, I got contacted by Pesakrompir, and they asked me if I wanted to test the electric model of Pipistrel called “Velis Electro”, so we drove through Slovenia all the way to Italy, where the Pipistrel factory is, in beautiful Gorizia. The first thing you’ll notice is an old hangar which was built during the first world war, survived the second world war and there it is standing still, surviving Covid, inflation and all the drama we’re going through. The other thing that caught my eye outside of the factory was a gigantic propeller that was being tested when they told me it was a private project and what they were testing it for, my jaw dropped, and if I told you, I would probably lose my privilege of visiting such innovative facilities so let me just give you a hint “flying is not for aeroplanes only”.

I will not write about the technical parts here, those you can read online, but I will tell you about my experience. First, the aircraft instruments are the same as any other aircraft, and they’re positioned very well; everything felt handy and simple, the rudder pedals were retracted to fit my height, Garmin screen is fitted perfectly above the battery indicator to monitor both batteries one in the front and the other behind the seats.

Range anxiety? I didn’t feel it.

See, at the same time, we tested Velis Electro; we were driving Cupra Born, which is an electric car that was driving smoothly until you hit the highway, then you see the range dropping like it’s hot. I felt the range anxiety there, but in Velis Electro, though the Pipistrel pilot did all kinds of manoeuvres, the range steadily reduced. It’s also less noisy than non-electric aircraft.

The great thing about the aircraft is that you land with the same weight you take off with unless you’ve squatted during the flight, which you can’t perform unless you’re as petite as me!

How long can you fly it?

Around 1 hour. We flew for 35 minutes, and the battery range was at 50%.

What’s so special about Velis Electro?

It’s the greenest way to fly, and it’s the first ever Type Certified electric powered aircraft fully approved for pilot training in Day VFR operations, and it’s using in-house technologies built by the bats ?.

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