Are Electric Aircraft The Future Of General Aviation?
by John White |
To encourage the development of electric aircraft our good friends at Google sponsored the NASA Green Aviation Prize of $ 1.35M to be awarded to the first aircraft to achieve the following:
Fly 200 miles in less than 2 hours;
Use less than 1 gallon of fuel per occupant;
Or use the equivalent of 1 gallon of fuel per occupant in electricity.
As an old piston-banger pilot I - of course - scoffed at the idea that anyone could accomplish such goals, especially with an electric aircraft! As usual, we old dogs were wrong! As it turns out there were 14 teams vying for the first prize; however only 3 met all of the requirements and competed for the prize. Believe it or not, 1 team - Team Pipistrel USA - achieved this lofty goal and won the $ 1.35M first prize! To make things even more interesting I encourage you to watch the following video: When I attended college at Michigan State University (Go Green!) we had a very active flying club called "The Winged Spartans". We competed with other colleges in flying contests, had a fleet of 3 Cessna 172s, lots of students and it seemed general aviation was here to stay. After graduation I turned down an offer to fly for United, continued to teach flying, flew for a corporation as chief pilot and eventually started my own aviation insurance business which I sold in 2004. It makes me sad today to see general aviation airports that look like ghost towns, and I really miss Sunday afternoons when we would all gather at the local air strip and talk about flying. The question now becomes will these advances in general aviation and electric aircraft bring a revival in general aviation? Please share your thoughts. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7+ ps: Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter "All Things Aviation" here!