World Record Holder To Attempt Landmark Flight
Eighty five years ago, Charles Lindbergh became the first pilot to fly from New York to Paris nonstop. Now another pilot has announced plans to fly the same 3,600 mile route, but in an electric-powered aircraft. Chip Yates is head of the Flight of the Century (FOTC) team, and while in its early stages has already developed a patent-pending battery deployment solution for replenishing batteries in flight.
FOTC has purchased a Burt Rutan designed Long-EZ aircraft (N158TG) that is currently undergoing an all-electric conversion in its Orange County, CA, corporate headquarters. Dubbed the “Long-ESA” for “Electric Speed & Altitude”, the 258 horsepower composite aircraft is scheduled for flight testing in July, 2012 followed by manned world record attempts for highest altitude and fastest top speed for electric airplanes.
Gizmag reports that Mr. Yates currently holds the record for world’s fastest electric motorcycle, and believes that electric long-haul flight is within reach and intends to prove it. His Atlantic crossing flight is not scheduled to take place until 2014, and he has much to do before then, beginning with getting his pilot certificate.
"I have a full-time flight instructor on my team, so we fly six days a week to get me my pilot’s license quickly in time for flight testing of the Long-ESA" Yates said. He currently has about 25 hours in his logbook, and says he is on track to get his license by the end of June. That would conincide with the timing for the taxi tests of the Long-ESA early in July.
In a news release in May, the company said its "potentially game-changing Infinite Range Electric Flight" technology involves a continuously flying electric mothership capable of docking with flying supplemental battery packs configured as UAVs. Once depleted, a docked UAV battery pack is jettisoned away from the mothership and autonomously glides down to a ground or ocean-base collection and recharge station. For infinite range electric flight, a replacement UAV battery pack is launched and is either hard or soft docked to the still flying mothership. For missions where re-docking is not practical, the FOTC team is also commercializing its patent-pending "Jettison & Balance System" (JBS) that it says will dramatically extend the flight range of today’s electric airplanes.
Work on the project started in April with his purchase of a Long-EZ Aircraft, which is in the process of being converted to electric power. It will be the test bed for development of the battery pack jettisoning system, and Yates hopes to use it for future record attempts. The FOTC team is working with Erik Lindbergh to promote electric flight and develop the flight plan for crossing the Atlantic.
The company is pursuing commercial and military applications and is in talks with collaboration partners from both areas, with more formal announcements forthcoming. (Images provided by Flight of the Century)