The Slovenia Times

Exploring the Alternatives of Flight



There are as many turning points as there are challenges and there should always be more challenges that can possibly be fulfilled. I'm a person who has never feared a challenge and I've have done many things in my life. But if we limit this to the company and aviation only, then the biggest turning point till now was when we became the first officially recognized, privately-owned aircraft manufacturer in the former Yugoslavia. It took enormous amounts of effort and energy to get through the bureaucracy and get the permit. Another important moment was when we began exporting these planes. Until then, this was predominantly the army's domain so we had to export indirectly, through Elan, and other firms. Another milestone was the decision to move from motorized hang-gliders to aeroplanes. At that time there were around two hundred small aircraft manufacturers and coming from the east and stepping out as the two hundredth and first, took a great deal of courage. What comes next? Is Pipistrel going to move towards mass production? No, we'll keep targeting a certain niche in the market, developing a small series of hi-tech solutions. Aircraft that are slightly different to the others, but always a step ahead of them. And these planes are affordable for most people? Well, our market doesn't offer planes for everyone. After all, our planes are also intended for gliding, for people who have a different approach and different philosophy to flying other than just taking a flight from here to there, to another airfield for a drink, but for those who want to take time to enjoying flying. For example to take a flight from Novo mesto to the Kamnik Alps, then switch off motor and glide for a couple of hours and then head back. We'll probably keep innovating and surprising people. We now have a couple more projects underway and we would like to maintain a leading role in the field of ultra-light planes with an auxiliary drive. Following your ideas of persistence and being imaginative - a perhaps banal and abstract question: If you had all the possible technology available to you, what would you go for? There are a couple more things in aviation that are yet to be determined. I'd probably take a different direction than the majority of my colleagues would - higher, faster, longer. I would go towards the essence of aviation, which is even more characteristic of flying - slower, lighter... There still are reserves in aerodynamics, buoyancy - to approach flying self-powered, with a flying device as light as possible and make flying possible to as an extensive number of people as possible. It is a fact today, that with engine power, you can do anything, but with a low-power engine and a small wing area, or not even a typical wing... there are still many things to be explored. This is, however, my greatest challenge and this is what we do now. This year, in cooperation with the newly emerging Faculty of Polytechnics, we are about to build an institute to explore the boundaries of aerodynamics, a dislocated laboratory for marginal, alternative ways of flying. The stories of success caught the attention of the politicians as well. How far do you intend to go in that direction? As long as it is a challenge. As I said - and some people were surprised - politics is a form of relaxation for me. Regardless of what some newspapers say. far as being a member of parliament? No, not at all. I'm not interested in that. I want to stay in the field of my expertise. If any party - and I have never been a member of one - wanted my views or advice, I'd always be ready to give it in order to change something in Slovenia. That is why I took the position on the strategic council, that is why I'm also active at the municipal level, but I'm not going into politics. I could already be a representative if I'd wanted to be. To conclude - a question from left field, connected to the popular notion of aviation: the notorious Airbus 380. Is it a need or just prestige? It is a definite need. I travel a lot and must say that for some routes, I need to look for a ticket two months in advance. You have two or three planes on the same route. The world is becoming more accessible, people need to move and reach other parts of the world in a shorter time span. And I don't think the last word has been said in this area yet: planes will go even faster and carry even more passengers. Another thing that is also very important: with a bigger plane, there is less pollution per passenger. It is important to do something about this. We should keep in mind that an average passenger on an overseas flight burns more fuel per hundred kilometres than in a car, which means there's a great deal of pollution. Something has to be done here; otherwise, I fear, we will burn out the atmosphere.


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