• May 23, 2012
Chip Yates retired his electric motorcycle last year after setting records at the Mohave Mile and Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and notching several (slower than Lightning) FIM World Land Speed achievements on the Bonneville Salt Flats. If you thought he was done with his pursuit of battery-powered feats, however, you have underestimated just how crazy this Californian is. Case in point? He's just announced a plan to trace the path Charles Lindbergh took during his historic flight from New York to Paris in an electric airplane.

Not just any electric airplane though. To get around the energy density limits of today's batteries, the craft is to be refueled during in-flight rendezvous with drones, which will either recharge or swap packs. No, we're not making this up.

In the time it takes to make this flight of fancy flight of the century happen, Chip will keep busy with other high-flying adventures. He is currently converting a Burt Rutan Long-EZ (now dubbed the Long-ESA, for "Electric Speed & Altitude") to battery power, with which he will attempt altitude and speed records this summer. He is also in the midst of taking another important step in achieving immortal airborne fame: getting his pilot's license.

Scroll below for more transatlantic flight details in the official press release. You can keep up with Chip's flying adventures on his Twitter feed and at his new Flight of the Century website.

Show full PR text
PRESS RELEASE


Infinite Range Electric Aircraft Firm Announces Plans For All-Electric Charles Lindbergh Transatlantic Flight


Orange County, California, May 22, 2012--Long-range electric aerospace company Flight of the Century, Inc. (www.flightofthecentury.com) announced today their intentions to design, build, and fly an all-electric aircraft from New York to Paris along the same 3,600 mile historic route pioneered by Charles Lindbergh in 1927.

The company additionally announced the constraints it will use to judge the success or failure of its record attempt, which is currently planned for 2014:

-Exact route and mileage flown by Charles Lindbergh (or further)

-Roosevelt Field, NY no longer exists, so a New York takeoff location as close as practicable but further from Paris will be used

-Equal or faster average speed to that achieved by Charles Lindbergh (108 mph)

-Equal or lower altitude to that flown by Charles Lindbergh

-Max 10,000 feet MSL (no Jetstream advantage)

-All-electric powered aircraft, carrying no fossil fuels, no helium (no blimps)

-Manned aircraft, flown by the pilot(s) on-board, non-stop

"Our purpose in setting out on this very difficult path is to force innovation that drives electric flight technology forward in a significant and measurable way," said Flight of the Century CEO Chip Yates. "You could fly this route today in an unmanned solar craft at 80,000 feet being blown over there by the Jetstream, or in something incredibly slow, or in a balloon, but that doesn't get our society any closer to realizing long-range, legitimate payload, electric flight capabilities that everybody can actually benefit from."

Flight of the Century engineers are using their recently filed worldwide patent (61/618,482) that enables electric aircraft to remain aloft indefinitely by docking with flying UAV battery pods as the basis for their custom designed transatlantic aircraft, which is expected to have a wingspan greater than 100 feet.

The company has also developed a software optimization tool based on NASA's OTIS4 Software (Optimal Trajectories by Implicit Simulation) that in-house flight engineers are using to identify ideal locations along the Lindbergh route from which to launch and recover a series of flying supplemental UAV battery pods to recharge the all-electric transatlantic aircraft during the non-stop flight. One transatlantic scenario involves the use of 5 strategically launched and recovered UAV battery packs as depicted in the image below.

In support of the Lindbergh mission, the Flight of the Century team is closing in on the maiden flight of their 258 horsepower electric test aircraft, scheduled for July, 2012. Dubbed the Long-ESA ("Electric Speed & Altitude"), the converted Burt Rutan designed Long-EZ will serve as a development platform for the company's long-range battery pack docking technology and will also be used to attempt altitude and speed records in manned electric flight categories.



Press inquiries: info@flightofthecentury.com

More information: www.flightofthecentury.com

Twitter: @ChipFlight


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      Letstakeawalk
      • 2 Years Ago
      "To get around the energy density limits of today's batteries.." Why not just use fuel cells? Boeing's Phantom Eye aircraft has four days' worth of energy stored on board. Plenty of energy density there!
        EZEE
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        Dude...you mentioned something associated with Hydrogen. Might as well bring up Pike Research, Daryl Issa, Fox News, and Rush Limbaugh while you are at it.
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        Good question... I would actually love to see that. Electric airplanes already exist and do fly with room for a couple of people... albeit very short distances. So this guys claim is only pioneering range, not necessarily a new concept. There hasn't even been a flight test of the Boeing Phantom Eye yet... and that doesn't have room for a pilot. And that is hydrogen burning prop engines. No fuel cell aircraft have yet to be prototyped yet. So I would say it is going to take a few more steps before this could be a valid proposal.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          My point was more regarding the energy density of stored hydrogen, vs. battery - there's no contest that hydrogen is more energy dense at the moment... But, you raise a valid point. Boeing's Phantom Eye does burn the hydrogen in the ICE. OTOH, "No fuel cell aircraft have yet to be prototyped yet." Is incorrect. Boeing has indeed built a fuel cell powered manned aircraft. Back in 2008. "MADRID, Spain, April 03, 2008 -- Boeing [NYSE: BA] announced today that it has, for the first time in aviation history, flown a manned airplane powered by hydrogen fuel cells." http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2008/q2/080403a_nr.html The combination of battery power and hydrogen fuel cells to supplement range has been demonstrated to work. The fuel cell stack is small enough, and compressed hydrogen storage is energy dense enough, that an electric plane should have no problem crossing the Atlantic unassisted.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Great link.. I wish they provided Power output of both the battery and fuel cell stack. And also kwh of the battery and kg of hydrogen.
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      If the inflight refueling planes or drones are not electric, my ass will fall off from uncontrolled laughter.
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      http://thefutureofthings.com/articles/51/solar-uav-to-set-a-new-world-record.html
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      Chip has gone truly mad. Love it!
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      impressive : ) this will require actually decent engineering which is in sharp contrast to the fat slobs Volt and Leaf. this is so relatively ambitious that I'd normally not even consider it. this would actually require me to think to determine if it's possible unlike the paddy cake engineering we normally see. shame such ambition isn't applied to a car though.. even the best glider with optimal battery would probably not get more than 2000km range if that. although he could cheat a little and ride strong winds. in-flight recharge or battery swap can be done but that's easily the most ambitious part : )
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        "even the best glider with optimal battery would probably not get more than 2000km range if that." Gliders have flown further than that; in 2009 Terry Delore and John Kokshoorn flew their glider more than 2500km. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/3155973/Gliding-on-to-a-world-record
      HVH20
      • 2 Years Ago
      This seems like an announcement that was made at a Bar.
      Ryan
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would think it would be far easier and more in line with the real flight if he started with two or three battery packs and jettisoned them over the Atlantic once they were depleted.
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Ryan
        Or, have satellite or ground based Microwave power transmitters... beam the power needed. Well that is a bit untested too. Solar is the most proven so far. VERY lightweight and VERY VERY long wing span, lots of cells, and altitude well above cloud cover and thin air to reduce drag. I think it needed a tow to get up there though... and Unmanned. Having a pilot these days is more an unneeded weight and liability.
        Neil Blanchard
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Ryan
        But that is incredibly wasteful, so I think it would be a non-starter. They could add some high efficiency PV cells to the wings to get some charging while they are flying. Neil
      Ryan
      • 1 Day Ago
      It might be wasteful, but they will provide 10 times the power for the same amount of weight that solar panels would. And it is much easier (and cheaper) than trying to refill out over the Atlantic. They could attach parachutes and GPS trackers and recover the batteries too.
      Spiffster
      • 1 Day Ago
      "They could add some high efficiency PV cells to the wings to get some charging while they are flying." Exactly what I was thinking... if your above the clouds you essentially have an unlimited energy source... well, during the day that is. Perhaps not enough to get you across the Atlantic but there is a lot of un-utilized surface area on those wings!
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yeah, the solar plane guys have a much cooler system. http://phys.org/news/2011-07-swiss-solar-plane-european-flights.html
    • Load More Comments