SolarGas engineer wins national race… in a solar-powered sport

Self-portrait of CSIRO solar engineer Scott Barrett hang gliding over Neuschwanstein Castle on a previous trip in Germany.

It’s true that (nearly) all activities are powered by the sun. But hang gliding – powered by sun-driven thermals that pilots have to skilfully read and navigate – might be the sport most directly connected to the sun’s energy.

It’s appropriate, then, that it was CSIRO solar engineer Scott Barrett who took out top honours at the recent Dalby Big Air Hang Gliding competition in south Queensland. Scott, who’s a previous international hang gliding champion, won the 7-day event by navigating courses of over 100 km in the fastest overall times.

Scott says his flying has given him a good appreciation of the huge power of solar energy. ‘I travel hundreds of kilometers on solar power,’ he says. ‘To race the fastest I have developed a good judgement of surface albedo to know where to find the strongest thermals. At this recent competition I used thermals to climb at a rate of 1000 feet per minute.’

When he’s not cruising at up to 8000 feet, Scott works as an engineer on the SolarGas™ project here at CSIRO Energy Technology.

Congratulations Scott! You can read more about his win at ABC news or on his Newcastle Hang Gliding Club blog.

Scott launching his glider in the Hunter Valley near Newcastle. Photo by Stefan Salentinig.

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