Chip Yates all-electric Long-ESA aircraft breaks 200 mph speed barrier


July 23, 2012

Chip Yates celebrates breaking the 200 mph barrier in his electric Long-ESA aircraft

Chip Yates celebrates breaking the 200 mph barrier in his electric Long-ESA aircraft

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The last time we caught up with electric vehicle pioneer Chip Yates, he was in the latter stages of his pilot training that would allow him to fly a yet-to-be-designed electric aircraft from New York to Paris along the same route taken by Charles Lindbergh. Having already claimed the crown for the world's fastest electric motorcycle in 2011, he has now stamped his seal on the title of first manned electric airplane to break the 200 mph barrier in level flight.

After the successful completion of runway and taxi tests, the Flight of the Century Long-ESA electric test plane took off from Inyokern Airport on July 19 with Yates at the controls. Converted from an engine-driven Long-EZ aircraft, the aircraft has been built as a test bed for the development of the battery pack parachute jettison, UAV battery pack jettison and UAV battery pack re-docking technologies for the planned Lindbergh flight we covered at the end of May.

During the flight, Yates managed to ramp the speed up to 202.6 mph (326 km/h) and lay claim to yet another speed record. Following his record run, he was forced to make an emergency landing after a dead battery cell killed the aircraft's propulsion during his final turn toward Runway 33. Narrowly averting disaster, "the wheels of the Long-ESA touched down the same instant the plane became aligned with the runway and just past the threshold for Yates to make a smooth landing."

Yates is currently showing off the record-breaking aircraft at the 2012 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, and has promised more details on the flight when he returns to home base.

Source: FOTC

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LOL - nice try - but pointing down to go faster isn't going to count guys :-)


He almost flew 18 miles.


christopher, what part of "break the 200 mph barrier in level flight" are you having problems comprehending?

Bill Bennett

It seems like he would have had main gear fairings (wheel pants) for a speed run. Either that or there are some aftermarket LongEZ retractable gear options like for the Berkut. Then again, they may be on a budget. We've met Chip Yates at my work and he is one adventurous goal driven dude. We need unrealistic visionaries to free us loose from conventional thought processes (like Kelly Johnson, Jack Northrop & Burt Rutan).

Bill Brewer

What a waste! Yates is a gloryseeker that is hacking together a "record" that is as valuable as some east poor schmuck growing the worlds longest fingernails!. There is NO NEW TECHNOLOGY here other than the stupidity of trying to change batterypacks in mid-ocean. I build Experimental aircraft, and there are a lot more exciting things of a PRACTICAL nature taking place in the experimental world. It is his money, but it is no more 'News" than someone riding a unicycle across England or rowing a boat to Tahiti.

And the Moron needs to go back to get some more training--"he was forced to make an emergency landing after a dead battery cell killed the aircraft's propulsion during his final turn toward Runway 33. Narrowly averting disaster. . . " If he was in the pattern as the article states, he was taught to have enough altitude to make the runway WITH ROOM TO SPARE given an engine out. This idiot glory seeker is gonna make bad press for homebuilt aircraft with his callous disregard for commonly taught safety procedures.

PicklePop Flyer

Guys and gals, I've helped build several Long EZ's, one of which is probably the fastest in the world the beautiful "Rumbling Roo". There is no was a stock Long EZ with unfaird gear legs, no wheel pants, and no prop spinner can make 200 mph without being in a dive. I notice that they don't claim it as a Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) record which probably tells the story right there. The FAI limits altitude change, ie diving during a speed record attempt to Sooooo...gotta call bull exhaust on Chip and his claims. Per the FAI Sporting Code; The flight performance shall be flown as four consecutive runs over the course, with each consecutive run flown in the opposite direction. The average of the elevations of the start and the finish points shall be the basis for determining the maximum height allowed. The altitude of the aeroplane at the finish line shall not be more than 100 meters below the altitude at the beginning of the approach. The aircraft’s height shall not exceed 500 meters above the average of the elevations of the start and finish points (as described in during the flight performance. The flight performance begins upon entering the approach to the first start point and ends at the last finish point. The flight performance shall be completed within 30 minutes. The achieved speed shall be the average speed of the four individual runs.


Its amazing that there is still so much battery technology momentum trying to reach long range goals when fuel cellls clearly WILL without doubt become the future of all efficient long range electric powered travel. This is due to the 3 to 5 times better "specific energy" or energy per unit weight with FC's. This is as a huge advantage over batteries especially when it comes to flight over surface travel.

If Yates truly wanted to push the future he would use FCs and his press release statement would be more meaningful; “Our purpose in setting out on this very difficult path is to force innovation that drives electric flight technology forward in a significant and measurable way,” said Flight of the Century CEO Chip Yates.

The flight of the LAST century would be using batteries, The "Flight of the 21st century" will be with Fuel Cells.

Tristram Metcalfe

Somewhere in the video he says "gear down and locked". That doesn't mean he had retracts, but it's possible. Would have liked to see a camera on the airspeed indicator, along with some other official data markers. But then, this flight seems to be completely about getting on the media radar, since he won't fly this plane anyway, but a 100-foot-plus craft built specially for the attempt...which I'm guessing will carry a great deal of batteries to minimize the number of "patented" UAV stations across the Atlantic. This young fella gives new meaning to the old cliche', "There are old pilots, and bold pilots, but no old bold pilots." Still, though he's not putting forth any new tech at this point, it has already garnered a ton of media coverage, so I consider this good priming-the-electric-awareness-pump effort. He's got to raise a lot of cash, after all, to pull this off in 2014.

Jim Lawrence

Phony, and glory hog... FC's or maybe a hydrogen engine might be news. Not this.

S Michael
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