Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on February 10, 2008
Filed Under Alternative Vehicles
Many people said it was impossible because so many had tried and so many had failed. Then one day in 1904, the first powered flight in an airplane became a reality. Over the next 100 years the world shrunk considerably, mainly due to our new ability to travel across the world in hours rather than months.
Last month another aviation first took place in France when the first light aircraft took flight on electric power alone. The Electra, a dream-come-reality of France’s APAME group, is a one-seater prop-driven plane with a 25 hp engine powered by 47 kilos of lithium-polymer batteries.
As in the case of the Wright Brothers, those who attempted electric flight and failed said it was impossible. The problem is that the energy-to-weight ratio of batteries is just fine for driving cars and even boats, but planes need a lot of thrust to get airborne and stay there. Hauling around hundreds of pounds of batteries – and passengers – was simply unrealistic.
Now the impossible is a reality, and aviation gurus are saying that this is not a minor step in aviation technology — it’s a quantum leap.
But don’t get too excited. The Electra only runs for about an hour and then must be recharged for about 8. And it only holds one person, the pilot. But at Kitty Hawk, the first flight only lasted a few minutes and held only one person – who was precariously stretched out on his stomach at the rudimentary controls. It took another 40-50 years before powered flight became feasible for the masses.
Imagine what awaits us in the next 100 years.