Unintentional Holiday

"I know that we are spending half a life at work and half a life where we sleep," says Ivo Boscarol, founder and the dynamo behind Pipistrel Aircraft, in his strong Slovenian accent.
"So it is important that the lifestyle during work hours is good, so I organize my factory the way that I feel good and my workers feel good.  They like to come to work, because actually this is quite serious business.  If something is not made well, everybody has trouble: me, my test pilots, my customers.  So we don’t put any pressure on the workers."
Ivo is tall, lean, direct and exuberantly intense, a true and tireless larger-than-life kind of guy.
Head honcho Ivo Boscarol and $1.35 million
My congenial traveling pal Rand Vollmer, head of San Antonio Light Sport Aviation (SALSA), a major dealer for Pipistrel in the states, calls Ivo a "rock star".  Indeed, after his company's Taurus Electro G4 won the recent CAFE Green Flight Challenge (and a cool $1.35 million) in impressive fashion, Ivo's not only lionized wherever he goes in Slovenia (including being feted by the President of Slovenia), but he's increasingly well-known globally.
"After our victory in Green Flight Challenge, we are invited all over the world to show the airplane. So," he says with a big grin, "we must go."
Such uncomplicated directness is just one part of what makes Ivo both likable and worthy of respect.  He's a guy you can talk with, but who knows how to get things done.
Equally magnetizing is his straight-ahead approach to aircraft design.  His approach is elemental, like fire: he gets a wild idea for a new aircraft, calls in his design team, and says "Let's build this."
At first, eyes may go wide and mouths drop open at what seems implausible, impractical or downright impossible.  But swept along by his relentless vision, enthusiasm and total confidence in their abilities, they find a way.
The breathtaking Panthera 4-seat cruiser will have Lycoming, hybrid or electric power!
A good case in point is the upcoming Panthera four-seat, all composite, Ferrari-like cruiser that is planned for debut at next spring's Aero show in Friedrichshafen, Germany.  The truly gorgeous airplane will be built in three power configurations: traditional Lycoming power, hybrid generator/electric power...and pure electric.
Some teaser specs:
Cruise: 202 kts. (Lycoming), 142 kts. (hybrid), 118 kts. (all-electric)
Range at Cruise: 1025 nm/660 nm/ 215 nm.
Expect to read a lot more about this stunning, revolutionary design in the months to come.  Meanwhile, here's a pic: don't be embarassed.  Go ahead, drool, I did when I saw the components being assembled in the factory.
In the time I spent at Pipistrel's beautiful, ultra-modern, super green factory in the small town of Ajdovšcina, just 90 minutes drive east from Venice, Italy, Ivo Boscarol candidly shared the philosophies and vision that has made the company one of the top European light aircraft makers.  I'll have much more in my next column for Plane & Pilot, as well as flight reports on their aircraft (including the Virus which I flew at Oshkosh).
Ivo's first production aircraft 24 years ago was a very successful trike (500 sold) that was flown in the waning light of dusk to avoid problems with the aviation-repressive government of Yugoslovia, of which Slovenia was once a part before the country split up.
See, in the dim light the locals thought the trike looked like a giant bat.  Ivo conscripted the notion and named his company Pipistrel, which means bat.
The Taurus Electro G4 and Pipistrel factory
Anyway, excited about visiting the factory where the prize-winning Taurus Electro G4 was created, along with several other LSA aircraft (the Sinus motorglider, Virus, Virus SW and Taurus motorglider are all recently ASTM certified and available in the U.S. as S-LSA), I booked a five-day visit to Slovenia in mid-October.
Reality check: the factory is built in a beautiful valley below a long mountain ridge that rises 3,000 foot directly above the town of Ajdovšcina.  That ridge has spun off 7 hour-plus soaring flights and is enough to make any soaring pilot happily weak in the knees.
But when the burja winds blow, the valley below that ridge acts like a perfect venturi.  Translation: they've reached hurricane strength velocity (120 mph) and can blow for days and days.  Ivo says the burja blows about 100 days a year.  Now you know why Pipistrel is building another facility in nearby Italy.
Anyway, you'll never guess what happened during my trip...yes, the burja blew so strong, there was no flying activity the entire five days I was there.  I never even saw an airplane outside of a hangar.
What?  Me worry?  Hell, let's go climb a pole.
(You'll have to check back in tomorrow to see what I mean...this post is getting too long.)


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