Pipistrel Acceptance Speech (as requested by media)
On December 17, 1903 Orville Wright flew 120 feet in 12 seconds. Two years later at Huffman Prairie, near what is now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, their flights covered 20 miles and lasted over 30 minutes… What amazing progress.
In 2008 at the Experimental Aircraft Association convention at Oshkosh Larry Fishman’s battery powered Electraflyer C was first flown publicly. Cruise speed of this one person airplane was about 70 miles per hour and endurance was about 45 minutes. Now in 2011 at the Green Flight Challenge two electrically powered aircraft, the eGenius and the Taurus G4, flew 200 miles at well over 100 miles per hour. The eGenius did this carrying two pilots, the Taurus G4 did this carrying two pilots and two sacks of concrete representing two additional passengers, for the equivalent energy consumption of 405 passenger miles per gallon.
What amazing progress.
Together we have shown that electricity is a viable, and in fact a beautiful, way of powering aircraft. When our airplanes fly by only two thousand feet overhead we can’t hear them. There are no emissions as they fly by, and at the GFC the power used to charge our batteries came from a geothermal plant, powered by nearby geysers. I pay about 8 cents for a kilowatt hour of electricity, which means it costs around 7 dollars to fly the Taurus G4 for over two hours. Compare that with the cost of 2 hours worth of aviation gasoline for a 4 passenger airplane, and compare the environmental impact of that geothermally generated electricity with the impact of burning several gallons of aviation gasoline. We are witnessing and participating in the birth of personal air travel that is both affordable and truly green.
There are many people building electric airplanes in start-up companies, in small businesses and in their garages around the country. We must encourage this and we must ensure that we continue to push technology forward.
Team Pipistrel-USA.com believes that technological progress comes from bold vision and great challenges. If NASA, Google, and the CAFE Foundation accept the challenge, Pipistrel will contribute $100,000 to a prize for the first electric airplane that can fly faster than the speed of sound. We fully expect that someone will win this prize within the next 5 years. From first flight in a battery powered aircraft to supersonic flight in under a decade: Won’t that be amazing?
We are all incredibly proud of being a part of what we expect to be an enormous change in aviation. We congratulate all the teams on their achievements, and we all thank NASA, Google, and the CAFE Foundation for enabling this historic competition, and we look forward to the future of electric aviation with tremendous excitement and anticipation.
Jack W. Langelaan
Penn State University