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.