As we all know, Al Gore has called for the elimination of fossil fuels within the next ten years. Thursday night he stated that the polar ice cap may likely be completely melted by the time our next President (Barak Obama preferred by Al) takes office. While he repeatedly stated the crisis in global warming is real, he also insisted that we can solve all of our problems if only we eliminate the use of fossil fuels from our daily diet.
Al, I have bad news for you. These fossil fuels not only power our electrical grid, automobiles and airplanes, but are used for many products most of us don’t even think about. Petroleum is also the raw material for many chemical products, including pharmaceuticals, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, and plastics.
But, a company called QinetiQ Zephyr Industries has the solution for us aviators. Between July 28th and July 31st their unmanned solar powered aircraft stayed aloft for 82 hours and 37 minutes, beating the previous record of 30 hours and 24 minutes. Zephyr is an ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre aircraft which is powered during the day by solar power generated by amorphous silicon solar arrays which are no thicker than sheets of paper and which cover the aircraft's wings. At night the aircraft is powered by rechargeable lithium-sulphur batteries which are recharged during the day using solar power.
The only problem is this is a hand-launched 66 pound aircraft which has a limited payload to accommodate the needs of today’s modern traveler. However, as good old Al points out, America is the home of innovation in technology, so with some additional government funding and help from our local FAA government employee help is on its way.
I can hardly wait. By the way, Mr. Gore, what are you going to power your Gulfstream II airplane with in ten years? Or will you turn it into a boat to float on the rising oceans coming from the melting of the polar ice cap next year?
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!