Parisian Michel Abadie is a man with a passion... for bamboo.

And he has patented a design for a new microlight using little but the natural material.

Abadie, who is president of the European Bamboo Society, believes that the substance has an ecological role to play through preventing the destruction of the world's rain forests.



And his new self-designed two-seater microlight will, he says, help to publicise the crusade.

"And harvesting it doesn't destroy the plant.

"This compares with an oak tree which takes 100 years to reach full maturity and when it's felled... it's felled."

In the early days of aviation, bamboo was used extensively, as the aviation museum at Le Bourget demonstrates.



For instance, French pioneer aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont used the material to build his Model 14-bis in 1906 and also the better-known Demoiselle of 1910.

Thomas Edison used carbonated bamboo to produce the filament in his first light bulb after trying at least 400 other materials, while the first gramophone stylus was made from bamboo, too.

The three-axis microlight uses a very lightweight joined-wing design for its high lift properties, strength and simplicity, while the pilot and passenger will sit between two bamboo struts held under tension with bracing wires.

The wings feature a structure made from laminated bamboo, covered with Mylar.

Power will be from a Rotax 447 engine initially, although Abadie intends to instal electric power with the necessary current generated through solar panels.

A scale model has been produced and the full-size version will be flight-tested in Toulouse before being flown in public for the first time at the 1998 International Bamboo Congress in Costa Rica.

The aircraft will have a wing span of 10m and a length of 7.80m.

It will weigh-in at 150kg while the maximum take-off weight will be 370kg.

Stalling speed is 50km/h with a VNE of 120km/h.

Source: Flight Daily News