July 19, 2012
By Alton K. Marsh
Chip Yates of the Flight of the Century project took a battery-powered Long-EZ on only its second flight at Inyokern Airport in California, 120 miles northeast of Los Angeles, on July 19. He claims that he flew at 202.6 mph, breaking the Cri-Cri record of 175 mph, and ended the flight with an emergency landing. He predicted subsequent tests will reach 199 knots (about 230 mph) as development continues.
A dead battery cell caused his electric motor to quit, forcing him to make an emergency landing. The wheels touched down just as he was able to align the airplane with the runway, just past the threshold.
The airplane is dubbed Long ESA for electric speed and altitude, giving you an idea of the types of records he hopes the aircraft will set. But he has bigger dreams. He wants to develop an airplane that will change batteries in flight, using little drones that take off from sea platforms. The old batteries drop off and either fly themselves to the sea platform or are recovered at sea. He just might make it. He has already ridden an electric motorcycle at 200 mph.
There is no solar energy involved such as that used by Solar Impulse, which recharges batteries with solar cells mounted on the wing and tail.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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