Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Light-Sport Chronicles: The Lindbergh Way

More insights into aviation’s electrifying future from Erik Lindbergh

He grins with unabashed enthusiasm. "It's pretty exciting! Although I don't think the flying public quite gets just yet that we may have, in the near future—I mean 10 to 15 years—small vertical takeoff and landing electric aircraft that are quiet, safe and simple to fly."

Then he asked, "And how will that change the way we move around the planet? Even if it takes longer, it is a kind of George Jetson reality that I think we are going to see in the future."

He waxed eloquent with the vision that we might at last be truly free from the infrastructure of roads. "It's a concept that thrills me and scares me a little bit, too," he continued. "After all, who can predict the side effects that might produce?

"Maybe I'm just a crazy evangelist. But, I see it happening, so I've taken it on," he said.

"Taking it on" includes his Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP) awards and other high-profile efforts, such as serving on the board of the XPRIZE Foundation. He's excited about the future of both flight and space travel.

"Something people ask me is, 'What would your grandfather think about this?'" Lindbergh acknowledges. "You know, I have no idea, except that he was always interested in the future of aviation: where it went, how advancing technology would affect our quality of life, how we should balance technology with the environment, or really, the quality of life itself.

"I do think he would be fascinated by electric aircraft and would probably be an evangelist himself," he said.

When I ask him if he ever fantasizes flying with his grandfather in something like the eSpyder, he smiled broadly. "Oh yeah—it would be great!" he said. "He always had his head in the clouds, thinking about the future of aircraft and spaceflight. I never did get a chance to fly with him, but I loved him as a kid. I thought he was great," Lindbergh said.


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