So you are in holiday mode, probably lounging down at the beach or by a big open fire - depending on where you live. There's nothing on TV and you have read all the books of interest, so now what? Well, if you fancy yourself as an artist, you might like to enter the competition to design the livery for the first of the new Pipistrel Panthera and be in the running to take home 1,000 euro (approx. US$1,290).

The company is providing three digital views of its new 4-place, 200 kt cruiser for you to apply your design talents to. Being of composite construction, your design will need to take into account that the aircraft's upper surfaces cannot be a dark color. Also, as the interior design is fixed, you have to work around the interior scheme. You wouldn't want a great exterior that unfortunately clashes with the interior, but given the neutral tonings this shouldn't be an issue. Oh, and your design must be able to be applied with computer cut foil. It will be quite challenging, given the color constraints and the swoopy styling.

The Aircraft

The aircraft itself has some interesting features to go with its CAD-designed exterior. Its systems, such as the titanium trailing-link retractable undercarriage, the flaps and trim, are all electrically operated, LED lighting is used inside as well as for navigation lights and landing lights and the big ol' fuel-injected Lycoming engine runs on unleaded fuel. Pipistrel is claiming a range of 1,000 nm (1,151 miles/1,850 km) as a result of the engine sipping 10 US gallons (38.5 ltr) per hour at 200 kts (230 mph/370 km/h). Coupled with the ability to use short grass runways also makes it a practical, almost go-anywhere machine.

If you're interested in entering the competition, submissions can be made via the Pipistrel website. You have until January 10, 2012.

There are plans to offer a 145 kW hybrid-electric version, as well as a pure-electric 145 kW model, although range would be somewhat reduced. Stay tuned.