Chip Yates record-setting Long-EZ electric airplane
Chip Yates: Into the Electric Blue Yonder
By Bill Moore
Interview with electric speed record hunter, Chip Yates who after breaking the 200 mph barrier at Bonneville on his home-made electric motorcycle, decided to go after a half-dozen others in an electric airplane…. once he first learned how to fly.
When Chip Yates told his support team that the next challenge he wanted to undertake was to fly an electric airplane across the Atlantic, he hadn't yet learned how to fly.
In the two months it took to convert a Rutan Long-EZ experimental airplane from gas engine to electric, the 46 year-old took flying lessons, which typically include doing a couple practice "dead stick" landings simulating engine failure. It would prove invaluable because in the course of testing the Long-EZ and making attempts at various world records, he experienced three power failures, fortunately all of them close enough to the California desert airfield to be able to safely land the sleek little composite airplane, ironically the same type of aircraft in which singer John Denver died.
Referred to in the media as a cross between Tesla/SpaceX head Elon Musk and daredevil Evel Knievel, his mantra, borrowed from NASA, seems to be "risk is the price of progress."
In this 26-minute interview we learn more about Yates, whose full name is William Morrison Yates III, and his goals, which still include that Flight of the Century across the Atlantic, though its been put on the back burner for the moment as he develops an electric airplane he hopes will fly at 350mph and set some ten world records.
Beyond that, he's set up an aviation production business to develop drones for the US government based on his experience with both electric motorcycles and electric airplanes.
You can listen to the entire interview using the built-in MP3 player below or by downloading the file for playback on your personal device.
Originally published: 16 Oct 2017
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