Fly Electric, At Last

Electric motors for airplanes are preferable to the standard petroleum-fueled piston engine for many reasons?they are quieter, vibration free, easier to maintain, emissions free, and cheaper to operate. The problem has always been that no electric motor could deliver enough power at a light enough weight to make it practical for small aircraft?but that’s no longer true. Aviation innovator Randall Fishman, of Cliffside Park, New Jersey, proved this summer that the era of electric flight has arrived when he flew his ElectraFlyer-C, a modified single-place Moni motorglider, before a crowd of thousands in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, at the EAA AirVenture air show. After an hour or so of fun flying, it takes about two hours to recharge the batteries, at a cost of less than $1 in electricity. Fishman is working to develop a two-seat version of the airplane. He also designed an electric-powered ultralight aircraft that can be flown by noncertified pilots, which he sells for about $19,000. (561.351.1190, www.electraflyer.com)

—Mary Grady

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