Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Light-Sport Chronicles: The Lindbergh Way

More insights into aviation’s electrifying future from Erik Lindbergh

Erik calls it "a bit of the Holy Grail," to see which manufacturer will be the first Cessna or Piper of electric flight training.

I asked him if he thinks the e430 could become the electric Cessna 150.

"I think it's a great airplane, so yes, it could be," Lindbergh says. "Another company to watch is Pipistrel. They demonstrated a lot of success with the NASA Green Flight Challenge," he said.

That Slovenian company won world acclaim and a tidy $1.35 million check—the biggest aviation prize ever—by flying 200 miles on batteries alone, with four passengers, at a 100 mph-plus average speed. The fuel "burn" was the energy equivalent of one gallon of gas per passenger—a formidable accomplishment that branded Pipistrel as a major star in the burgeoning electric sweepstakes.

I asked if he has met two other movers and shakers I personally admire: Elon Musk (founder of PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors) and Peter Diamandis, (founder of XPRIZE Foundation, co-founder with another big thinker, Ray Kurzweil, of Singularity University).

"I served with Elon on the board of XPRIZE," Lindbergh said. "These guys are some of the leading visionaries of our time. Elon's got a vision, the money and the savvy to back it up." With a glint in his eye, he added, "I think these guys have surprises up their sleeves for electric flight, as well."

To appreciate the creative side of Erik Lindbergh's love of flight, check out His very cool retro sci-fi rocket ships—think Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon style—and other fanciful wood creations are top-notch.


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