7 virtues of our Leading Lady, Mahi

Mahi is a Sinus 912, a two-seat, ultra-light, high-wing, cantilever monoplane manufactured by Pipistrel Aviation based in Slovenia.

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The development of the Sinus began in 1994 in close collaboration with the Slovenian firm Albastar Ltd. A year later, the Sinus was unveiled at AERO Friedrichshafen 1995, with first flight of the prototype taking place in 1996.

In 2001, Philippe Zen and Thomas Knowles flew a Sinus at the World Air Games in Spain and won first place in the two-seat category.

The Sinus 912 is eco-friendly, weighs less than a family of four, and is smaller than the average kitchen. It soars like a bird in glide mode, is exceptionally efficient, highly reliable and promises us unmatched views of the Earth.

With these qualities, the WE! Expedition has dubbed her Mahi (Great Planet Earth in Sanskrit) – a friend, a guide who is going to take us on a never before journey around the world.

As the leading lady of the WE! Expedition here are the 7 virtues of Mahi –

1. THE POWERTRAIN

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An 80hp at 5800 rpm Rotax 912 UL2 4-stroke engine powers the Pipistrel VARIO – a variable-pitch propeller that can be feathered during unpowered flight. This means lower air-resistance, longer glide distances and therefore, greater fuel efficiency.

2. THE MILEAGE

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Speaking of efficiency, Mahi only consumes about 10 litres of fuel per hour at a high cruise-speed of 200 kmph (110 kts). Combine that with 15-meter wings and a 1:28 glide ratio, with feathered propellers and what you get is an aircraft that can stay airborne for up to 1200 km. Clean aerodynamic lines and a perfect finish is what enables the Sinus to perform even better than a number of typical motorless gliders.

3. THE FUSELAGE

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In terms of geometry, Mahi is equipped with positive and negative flaperons, airbrakes and nosewheel. It is manufactured from hi-tech epoxy resin, fibre glass, carbon and Kevlar composites, making it lightweight, yet sturdy and incredibly safe.

4. THE COCKPIT

Mahi Cockpit

Let’s move on to the cabin. With 44” of space, the cockpit can comfortably seat two people side-by-side. All controls are easy to use and reachable from both seats, but the dual controls have been disabled, which means Mahi can be flown only by the pilot-in-command.

5. THE COMFORTS

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Mahi’s cabin is properly insulated from noise (noise levels have been measured at <60db) and very comfortable, which is extremely important given the length and duration of flights our pilots will have to endure. The seats are also ergonomically designed with an adjustable headrest. Both the pilot and passenger pedals have differential toe brakes fitted. The pedals are adjustable forward and aft in flight and are manufactured from stainless steel.

6. THE INVULNERABILITY

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Safety always comes first. Which is why the entire cabin area is encased with energy absorbing structures made from Kevlar fibre, an amazing material which maintains the integrity of the cabin and makes it safe in case of stronger impacts. Together with a special Safety Cockpit Concept, Mahi is equipped with a ballistic parachute rescue system, which saves the complete aircraft together with the crew in case of extreme emergencies.

7. THE FORTITUDE

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What makes Mahi especially suitable for a trip around-the-globe is her ability to land almost anywhere thanks to her highly efficient airbrakes and excellent slow flying characteristics. When it comes to take-off, all this wonderful plane needs is approximately 100m of runway. This makes even the smallest and most remote airfields accessible for the occasional pit-stop.

Combine all these and what you get is a well-equipped globetrotter.

To find out more about WE! and Mahi’s upcoming circumnavigation attempt – the first ever by a woman and the first ever by India, in a motorglider, visit wefly.org.in

— Team WE!

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Where it all began: A brief history of Circumnavigation

Circumnavigation essentially means to travel all the way around the planet, continent or island.

What fascinates us more, of course, is the circumnavigation of our planet Earth. The desire to explore is intrinsic to human nature. Effervescent curiosity, combined with a sense of adventure and accomplishment is what inspired Ferdinand Magellan to be the first person to circumnavigate the world.

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CIRCUMNAVIGATIONS – BY SEA

  • His nautical expedition set out from Seville, Spain, in 1819, traversed the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean before returning in 1822 – albeit without Magellan who sadly passed away on the journey. His ship, the Nao Victoria, became the first vessel to sail all the way around the globe. The Magellan-Elcano expedition has since inspired the more intrepid amongst us to recreate it in different ways.

 

  • The HMS Driver, a Driver-class wooden paddle sloop of the Royal British Navy became the first steamship to circumnavigate the globe in 1847, after completing her nearly 2-year voyage.

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  • In 1960, the submarine USS Triton completed the first-ever submerged circumnavigation.

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  • We have come a long way in terms of nautical ability. While Magellan’s voyage took approximately 3 years, the current world record for nautical circumnavigation stands at just under 41 days and is held by IDEC Sport, a wind-powered vessel.

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The maxi trimaran Idec Sport set a new record time for the Jules Verne Trophy, the outright round the world sailing record when the team crossed the finish line off Ushant at 0749 (UTC) on Thursday, January 26, 2017, having sailed the 22,000-mile theoretical round the world course in 40d 23h 30m and 30s. On the water, they actually sailed 26,412 miles at a blistering average speed of 26.85 knots.

 

  • They shattered the previous record set by Loïck Peyron and the crew of the maxi trimaran Banque Populaire V in 2012 by 4d 14h 12m and 23s.

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  • In 2007, the Swiss boat Planet Solar earned the distinction of becoming the first ever solar-electric vehicle to circumnavigate the globe.

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  • On April 6, 2013, Indian Navy’s Lt Cdr Abhilash Tomy wrote a new chapter in India’s rich Maritime history by becoming the first Indian to Circumnavigate the Earth under sails – solo, nonstop and unassisted.

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He had set sail out of Mumbai on November 1, 2012 in the sail boat INSV Mhadei to undertake a voyage no Indian had attempted before and few had dreamt of. In fact, so far, less than 80 people in the world have successfully completed such a voyage.

 


 

CIRCUMNAVIGATIONS – BY AIR

  • The Aviation Age brought with it the first aerial circumnavigation, which was carried out by the United States Army Air Service in four Douglas World Cruiser biplanes in 1924.

 

  • In 1929, the airship Graf Zeppelin became the first lighter-than-air aircraft to complete the feat under its own power.

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  • Fast forward to 2002, when Steve Fossett became the first person to fly around the world alone, non-stop in any kind of aircraft, namely, a hot air balloon. He left in the 10-story high balloon Spirit of Freedom from Northam, Western Australia on June 19, 2002 and returned to Australia on July 3, 2002, landing in Queensland.

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  • In 2016, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg completed the first ever solar-powered aircraft circumnavigation of the world in their plane, the Solar Impulse 2.

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Circumnavigation has been a badge of honour for adventurers for centuries. Now, the enthusiasm to achieve it shows no sign of waning. In fact, today it is more fervent than ever, with people looking to achieve the feat in new and innovative ways.

The WE! Expedition is looking to join this illustrious list and go down in history by completing India’s first-ecivilianlian circumnavigation of the globe in a motorglider by an All-woman team.

You can follow the WE! Expedition as we go around the world via our website: http://wefly.org.in

 

— Team WE!

5 Women who put India on the World Aviation Map

There are women who fly!
There are women who fly higher!
Then, there are women who make the Indian Tricolour fly higher than ever before!

Here is an interesting story about how it all began…

The year is 1966.

A member of the Ninety-Nines, the American chapter of the Women Pilots Association, is passing by the Bombay Flying Club at the Juhu Aerodrome, Mumbai. Her name is Isabelle McCray-Hale and she is a flying nurse from the United States.

She observes some women huddled around a small aircraft. She wonders why there are these Indian women dressed in sarees at this Aerodrome! On touch down, she discovers that these are no ordinary women, but each one of them is an Aircraft Pilot.

This little encounter led to a new era in the history of Indian aviation for women. Isabelle McCray went on to befriend and invite these Indian women to become members of the International Women Pilots Association also known as The Ninety-Nines (99s) and within a year, the Indian Women Pilots Association (IWPA) and the 99s’ India chapter came into being.

That was the birth of a new generation of gallant women pioneers who put India on the World Aviation Map. Here is a list of our aviation heroes – pilots who are beacons of inspiration for young girls and women in India.

  1. Chanda Budhabhatti was one of the first women to set a speed record for a single-engine plane when she piloted a Piper aircraft in the US – a record she chose to set in Women’s History Month.
  2. Rabia Futehally was a 25-year-old, mother to a nine-month-old when she first climbed into the high cockpit of her favourite Piper PA-18 aircraft. She was the first woman pilot in the country to receive a private pilot license (PPL).
  3. Mohini Shroff is the first lady to participate in Air Race – India, organised by the Aeronautical Society of India, in 2003. She holds a current Private Pilot’s license No.: 158 till date and is a Hobby Flyer.
  4. Late. Capt. Durba Banerjee was the first lady pilot of Indian Airlines back in 1956 and the first Indian woman commercial pilot. She was the first woman of her times to break stereotypes and make a career in this field.
  5. Capt. Saudamani Deshmukh was the first woman in Asia to become a Check-Pilot on F-27 in March 1987, the first woman commander of a Boeing-737 in July 1988 and also commanded the first All-Women-Crew Flight on a Boeing 737 in September ’89 and on an Airbus A-320 in June ’95.

The Indian Women’s Pilot Association has come a long way since these plucky women paved the runway for the next generation of Women Aviators. Today it is over 50 years old and it is no meagre achievement that India has more women pilots than the rest of the world, making up 11% of the workforce compared to an estimated 3% globally.

And just like these pathbreakers, two young Indian woman pilots are ready to take on the world with the WE! Expedition – a heroic task to circumnavigate the earth in a motorglider – the first of its kind undertaken by an All-woman team. This expedition epitomizes heroism more than ever – it is noble in nature – a bold statement to the entire world that…

When You Give A Woman Wings, The Whole Flock Flies.

 

Follow our blog to stay updated on the adventures of our two pilots on the WE! Expedition.

— Team WE!