Last year, Chip Yates set a new world record for being the first person to fly an electric airplane over 200 mph. But that wasn’t enough to satisfy him. Yates is aiming even higher, announcing plans to become the first person to fly an electric airplane non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean. The trip will take Yates from New York to Paris — the same route that Charles Lindbergh took. Yates is still quite new to flying — after all, he has only had his pilot license for about a year — but he is eager to test the limits of electric aviation.
Wired Magazine recently published an in-depth profile of Yates, an inventor who says he isn’t motivated by fame; instead, he views the trans-Atlantic voyage as an engineering challenge. At about 3,500 miles, Yates’ transatlantic voyage will be roughly three times as long as the next longest flight made by an electric airplane. It’s also about five times the range of the electric airplane that Yates is building, but he’ll overcome the plane’s 700-mile range by refueling with new batteries mid-flight, which will be delivered by unmanned aircraft.
“This is so far beyond anything that’s been accomplished in electric aviation as to sound impossible,” writes Wired reporter Jason Paur. “His idea makes the Solar Impulse transcontinental flight on solar power seem sensible.”
Yates is the CEO of Flight of the Century, and he’s better known for racing motorcycles — he recently built an electric motorcycle that set a land speed record at 197 mph. Yates and his team still need to build the airplane and get the batteries ready for the long-range flight. In preparation for the flight, Yates will test a Burt Rutan-designed Long EZ aircraft next month, which will serve as a test for the company’s battery packs. “The battery cells for the Lindbergh flight are in the lab right now but they’re not yet ready for prime time,” he recently told Gizmag.