Test pilot and speed freak Chip Yates, already a record-holder for the world’s fastest electric motorcycle, broke another one last week in his all-electric airplane. In only its second flight, his Flight of the Century Long-EZ took to the skies over Inyokern Airport in California and reached a top speed of 202 MPH.
Instead of taking off with thunderous jet engines, future airplanes may soar into the air on battery packs, and jettison them like so much ballast once the juice has been drained. Then these batteries could be replaced in flight. Instead of refueling with flying tankers, electric planes would rendezvous with autonomous flying battery-drones.
By Amber WilliamsPosted 02.13.2012 at 11:00 am 10 Comments
Last October, near Karlsruhe, Germany, Thomas Senkel completed the first manned flight of an electric multicopter, flying it 10 feet off the ground for 90 seconds. Senkel, a physicist and paraglider pilot who helped found the company E-volo to build the craft, invented it after seeing a YouTube video of a German hobbyist’s remote-controlled hexacopter in action.
It’s an aviation story so cool we’re kind of upset we didn’t hear about it a month ago when it happened. Back on August 12th electrical and aerospace engineer Pascal Chretien, working with the backing of French company Solution F, made the world’s first untethered, all-electric manned helicopter flight. And it didn’t even show up on our radars--probably because he only reached an altitude of about one meter.