No one likes being overly dependent on others, right? Freedom is one of the great draws of being a pilot, and many say that feeling is no more distinct than while guiding a sailplane soundlessly, thousands of feet above the ground. But the sad fact is, you need help to get up there. Usually a tow plane or ground-mounted winch is required to get you into the blue yonder where freedom takes hold. Just part of the deal, with sailplanes. Or at least it was.
Enter Desert Aerospace and an idea that looks right out of a James Bond movie. How about taking that lightweight aircraft and giving it a retractable jet engine, deployed from a compartment behind the cockpit? It only adds 45 pounds to the weight of the plane but provides 240 pounds of thrust, enough to take the plane up to a good gliding altitude at a climb rate of more than 900 feet per minute. Not just handy for the beginning of the flight, but the engine can also give you a little insurance to make certain you return to the landing area if the thermals weren’t quite in the places you’d hoped.
Check out the video of the BonusJet in action and tell me you wouldn’t like to take at least one low level buzz over the spectators on a Saturday afternoon.