Colloquium: May 4, 2010

Green, Quiet, Electric V/ESTOL Aircraft: The Second Century of Flight

Dr. Brien A. Seeley

TUESDAY: May 4, 2010 2:00 P.M. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium


As host of NASA’s 2011 Green Flight Challenge, the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation is plugged-in to a global village of innovators who are pushing the cutting edge of small aircraft design. Dr. Brien Seeley, President of the CAFE Foundation, will show how those innovations, electric propulsion and miniature sensor/actuators can enable an enormous and sustainable expansion of air transportation. His colloquium will focus on N+5 aeronautical solutions to airline delays, surface gridlock and air quality. He will outline how the great body of work by NASA Aeronautics can be rapidly applied to such solutions by converging it with private efforts of ‘garage band’ innovators, the soaring community, electric aircraft start-ups, PADA faculty and entrepreneurs.

A neat looking airplane


Brien A. SeeleyBrien Seeley grew up in Walnut Creek, California and attended Las Lomas High School. He went on to Cal on a football scholarship where he played both football and baseball in the late 60’s.

After graduating from Cal, Brien obtained his M.D. degree from UCSF in just three years. While a med student, he designed and built his own 70 mph, street-licensed electric car and drove it to the hospital each day as an intern. He went on to design and build two other racing cars, and used one to complete the SCCA Racing Drivers’ School at Sears Point Raceway.

During his residency in eye surgery at UCSF, he devoted his two-week vacation to earning his pilot’s license, and this began a life-long passion for flying. He joined EAA, read and studied aerodynamics and helped build 2 experimental aircraft. Brien conceived the “CAFE Formula” and founded the CAFE Foundation in 1981 to host the CAFE 400 flight efficiency aircraft races.

As its President, Brien led the CAFE research that published comprehensive treatises on aircraft engine cooling, electronic ignition and invented and analyzed the first EPGs (exhaust pressure graphs) for scientifically tuning aircraft exhaust systems. Brien has been a regular Forum Presenter on several subjects at EAA’s annual Oshkosh Airshow and was recently awarded Outstanding Speaker Award by SAE International.

In 2003, Brien inaugurated the Personal Aircraft Design Academy (PADA), an annual gathering of prominent aeronautical designers at Oshkosh AirVenture, and has served as its Moderator each year since. In summer 2005, NASA and CAFE signed a Space Act Agreement for CAFE to host the NASA Centennial Challenge (CC) for Aviation, a 5 year program. CAFE conducted the first two CC flight competitions in Santa Rosa in both 2007 and 2008. In July 2011, the CAFE team will host the first ever NASA Green Flight Challenge for 200 pMPG aircraft. In May, 2007, Brien and the CAFE team hosted the First-Ever Electric Aircraft Symposium in San Francisco, now an annual event that convenes an elite group of presenters focused on the opportunities for quiet, electric-powered aircraft.

Brien has received several honors in medicine, being elected Vice President of his 155 physician specialty group and President of the UCSF Cordes Eye Society. The Sonoma County Medical Association awarded him “Outstanding Contribution to Sonoma County Medicine in 2003” for his 10 years of publishing diverse medical science articles in the journal, Sonoma Medicine.