Don’t be misled by the headline.
The coming of electric powered airplanes
is as sure as tomorrow. What form these birds will eventually take
may be something between what we have known to be airplanes or what
we know now to be rotary aircraft or even drones.
But the manner in which electric flight
will be introduced to the public is as old as flight itself.
Return of The Air Races
simple truth is the future will get a big push at least in aviation
circles, if Jeff Zallman, (right) the promoter of Air Race E has
Air races have always been a magnet
to advancing aviation.
Air Race E the world’s first
all electric airplane race will bring together a group of small,
single-engine jobs that will fly wing tip to wing tip around a plotted
course zooming past pylons placed like a race track on the ground
above an airport.
When this race will take place and
where it will be held, is still an open question.
Zallman has said that the process of selecting a host city the first
race has involved more than 100 cities that have expressed an interest
in having the event.
“We are down to a small list
of potential venues,” Zallman told AVweb’s
What is known is that the first electric
airplane race will be held (God willing) in Q3 2022.
Right now according to the latest
news, Zallman has a half dozen teams of fliers booked and is looking
for more to enter the competition.
Think about it for a moment . . .
teams will race airplanes on a tight 5 kilometers circuit just 10
meters above the ground.
Zallman, who had planned this event
originally for 2020 saw his dream shut down by COVID-19.
But, despite the setbacks that continue
as COVID slowly gives up ground around the world, some big-time
endorsements have raised interest, including Airbus devoting some
pages on its website
about the event, and we assume, support otherwise.
What’s Old Is New Again
To set the stage, the airplanes are
small. They all look to be maybe the size of a J2 (Piper Cub) or
AerCoupe, two smallish aircraft that were popular here in America
after World War II.
It is hoped that a Formula One all-electric
airplane race, a concept that Zallman has now expanded to include
other than fixed wing aircraft, will raise interest, viability and
support to the idea of electric powered flight amongst the general
Electric Captains of the
The idea, Jeff Zallman is creating
with an air race, and a spectacular event to draw attention to aviation,
is as old as aviation itself.
The history books are filled with
both air races and early stunt flights that were held just a few
years after the first Wright Brothers flight in 1903 that fastened
the public’s attention to aviation.
Brazilian inventor Alberto Santos
Dumont flew his aircraft that looked like a box kite called “14-bis”
(Quatorze-bis), also known as Oiseau de proie ("bird of prey"
in French), in 1906, near Paris.
Dumont who earlier had flown around
the Eiffel Tower and made headlines worldwide in 14-bis was the
first manned powered flight to be publicly witnessed by a crowd.
It was also the first powered flight made anywhere outside of the
United States, as well as the first powered flight by a non-Wright
It wasn’t long before, with
everybody getting into flying, air races became the stuff of fame
and aviation headlines.
Jimmy Doolittle, known as the leader
of the Doolittle Raiders who, in 1942 bombed Tokyo, flying B-25
Mitchell Bomber aircraft, and later served as General of the 8th
USAF became a household name October 26, 1925 piloting his Curtiss
R-3C-2 to victory in the Schneider Trophy Race with an average speed
of 374 km/h (232.17 mph).
The next day Doolittle flew the R3C-2
(that now resides in the National Air & Space Museum) over a
straight course at a world-record speed of 395 km/h and that was
front-page news everywhere.
Amelia Earhart set all sorts of firsts
for pilots and women including a speed record from Mexico City to
Washington, D.C. in 1935.
Hero Electric In Aviation
will Air Race E “light the candle” for electric aircraft?
And who might emerge as our next aviation
hero of a new way to fly, inspiring others?
Will it be Dominique Milcendeau (left)
of Team French E-Racer piloting a Cassutt IIIM with an electric
Maybe it will be one or even more
than one from the American Fort Worth, Texas entrant Möbius
of the Founding and Official teams of Air Race E and the first and
only official team of the Americas, Team Möbius member Carl
Copeland, (right) said that the team is seeking both sponsors and
industry partners to join them in ushering in the advent of electric
“We are in full-throttle R&D,
developing a new, energy-dense battery technology, prototyping a
custom, ultra-light motor, and currently producing the first 3D
printed full-size prop specifically designed to exploit the advantages
of a new motor platform.”
That there are secrets in plenty,
yet to be unlocked, in all of this simply thrills the imagination.
“We are in the late stages of
development for a new type of power-dense (therefore lighter) battery,”
Möbius Aero says.
“Unlike the lithium many are
reasonably using, our system will not be using dangerous or toxic
materials. It will also benefit from not being prone to thermal
run-away or other fire hazard conditions. It will, as a result,
have a lower discharge rate than lithium, but we will employ systems
that manage our power availability.”
Electric Pie In The Sky
Another bright star is Pie Aeronefs
SA, a Swiss electric aircraft manufacturer founded just a year ago
in March 2020 by Marc Umbricht.
“The idea is about developing
next-gen electric aircraft that could replace aging piston-engine
general aviation airplanes.
“After discovering the upcoming
Air Race E event, we wanted to use this opportunity to evolve in
a competitive environment.
“This will enable us to design
an experimental racer as a first project and keep us moving forward
with a tight timeline.
“In addition,” Marc added,
“we not only need to prove our aircraft flies, but also that
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