Chip Yates Wants to Fly Across the Atlantic in an Electric Plane (w/ video)


I was going to introduce you all to Chip Yates, but I don’t have to. Yates is every bit the hero to the EV community that Burt Munro is to motorcyclists, and for the same reasons. He’s every bit the hero that Chuck Yeager is to test pilots, and for the same reasons. He’s every bit the hero that Monster Tajima is to hillclimbers, and for the same reasons. Now, Chip Yates wants to be every bit the hero that Charles Lindbergh is to endurance fliers … and, again, it’s for all the same reasons.

That’s right, kids! Chip Yates has decided to repeat Charles Lindbergh’s historic flight across the Atlantic — in an electric airplane. F***ing baller.

Chip Yates, then, is the de-facto daredevil of the EV and alt-fuel world. It seems, though, that he’s starting to make waves in the mainstream press as well. The following is a summary of Yates’ project, from Wired’s Autopia

To fulfill the ambitious goal, Yates must overcome the great disadvantage of electric drivetrains — their limited range. His solution is to use unmanned aerial vehicles that will provide additional electricity during the flight. That’s another way of saying he will use autonomous battery packs that will meet him in flight, transfer energy to the plane and return safely to an airport.

This is so far beyond anything that’s been accomplished in electric aviation as to sound impossible. Electric aviation has only become something approaching practicality for hobbyists happy to fly slowly and silently within a short radius of home. There are some ideas for extending range, but no one is considering anything approaching what Yates is proposing.

“He’s not typical of the aviation industry,” concedes Erik Lindbergh, a pilot who is the legendary aviator’s grandson and a proponent of electric aircraft. “He’s young and he’s a breath of fresh air in that he’s willing to risk it all.”

… willing to risk it all. For- what, exactly? Again: f***ing baller.

Keep in mind, also, that Lindbergh managed an average speed of more than 100 mph during his transatlantic voyage a century ago – if Yates really wants to match his accomplishment, he’s going to need to go a lot faster than a glider. That means this will be a powered flight. All the way. With in-flight re-charging thanks to a pack of battery-hauling drones. It’s just too nutty to not be awesome.

Stay tuned, then.

While you’re waiting, though – have fun watching the full video of Chip Yates’ record-setting speed run, below.


Sources | Photos: Wired, Treehugger.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.