Malte Bernhardt From hang-gliding to Antares 20E

Following the trail of the origin of flying

Malte Bernhard has been enjoying his dream-glider for his first season. After a long warm-up phase he now owns a new Antares 20E. What does the former hang-glider pilot like about his electric self-launcher?

 “I had my first encounter with Antares flying an Antares 18 - and that moment,” Malte Bernhardt explains “I already knew: This one will be mine. I felt comfortable at once.” Finally his model got a little bigger, because the 20E is a self-launcher.

Actually the hang glider-pilot first did at first not really enjoy soaring: “Everything seemed too formal to me.” But then the dentist, who lives in the Taunus, decided that all that driving back and forth to the Alps was too annoying. Stefan Senger, whom Bernhardt already knew from his time as a hang glider pilot, and who is chartering out a whole fleet of electric powered sailplanes, finally triggered the change. Stefan Senger recommended the 18-m-glider. This would be similar to the intuitive flying with a hang-glider.

Before first getting to know Stefan Senger’s Antares 20E „AT“, Malte Bernhardt had already had many possibilities of comparison. He had started his gliding career with an ASW 19 in Unterwössen, which he bought together with a colleague. He had also chartered a “beaten-up” DG-800, he flew a Verntus, and in Anspach’s club he could use an ASW 28.

“For Unterwössen I could have stayed with an Antares 18T,“ estimates Bernhardt, but then based in Anspach he did not want to do without self-launching. “I am an early bird, and at that time of the day you can only take-off by self-launch. Now I can also fly on Wednesday afternoons, and therefore I like to be independent.” The Antares’ electric motor is another plus. Noise emission is just marginal, which avoids a number of problems. Bernhardt: “Unterwössen is especially sensitive to noise, self-launching an Antares 20E is allowed, though.“

In order to have in case of a downdraft the guarantee for a return flight, Bernhardt sometimes prefers to be towed up: “That way I still have another 3000 meters available to climb in the mountains.” In lower mountain ranges he had never required an extra-reserve after self-launching, so far. But being a father of two little kids he makes a point of safely returning home.

“In Namibia I once have canceled a 1000er task with my Antares 20E, though,“ remembers Bernhardt “I had to fly around huge showers and at the end even go through them to pursue my plan.” But he did not regret his decision that much: “Other pilots with gasoline engines continued their tasks, in the end they were really lucky not to be cut off by thunderstorms.” Bernhardt cuts back: “With an electric glider your strategy somewhat changes.“

Flying an electric glider through rain? Rumor-wise this is a no-go. Bernhardt: “Panic mongering; pilots are afraid of experiencing a short time overload. I had to fly through heavy rain showers twice, without any trouble, because I absolutely wanted to fly home.”

Concept, manufacturing, and equipment as well as a fortiori the flying - the Antares 20E is Malte Bernhardt’s dream-glider. “Even while flying for hours, I am never tired.” Bernhardt praises the sailplane‘s high auto-stability. Nevertheless the Antares is very agile and with its harmonically balanced controls it turns almost joyfully. Bernhardt: “The Antares is very delicately maneuverable; it needs only very little input to direct it into the core of a thermal.”

He never experienced any technical problems during the year. After his first season with the 20E Malte Bernhardt is fully satisfied. Adding his flights in Namibia he put 220 Antares-hours into his OLC-account.

Rigging and derigging had never been problematic for the early-launcher, who often finds himself alone on the airfield in the morning. It takes him about fifteen minutes to rig the ship. The battery-loaded wings are carried by the Lange one-man rigging aid. Bernhardt: “Well, of course it’s easier to mount the wings to the fuselage with two people.”

And now Bernhardt’s dream-glider will be further improved. During the winter season the Antares will get some trendy color design at LTB Sebald.