Flight highlights potential for stealth technology

Yates arrives at AirVenture, plans to demonstrate landmark flight to fellow aircraft enthusiasts

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

As Chip Yates’ record-breaking flight (see related story) was tracked by China Lake infrared cameras, engineers discovered another reason to watch Flight of the Century’s technology for an electric-powered aircraft.

“I’m not sure anyone really put this together before, but since electric motors produce very little heat, this opens the door to a lot of stealth potential,” said Yates. The interest of military and special operations was piqued when engineers had difficulty locking the electric-converted Long-EZ’s barely registering heat signature.

“The eyebrow-raising part of this was that we made no effort to lower that with a heat shield.” Yates and his team were instead focused on achieving a long-term goal toward designing and implementing a hot-swappable system of drone-powered batteries that will make possible indefinitely sustainable flight.

“So now you have an aircraft that can fly between 200 and 250 miles per hour and is very difficult to track. I think the Navy is very interested in that. And they should be.”

Yates will be presenting his findings to the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture gathering in Oshkosh, Wisc., which is expected to draw more than half a million people. The video of Yates’ flight (a preview of which is currently available on YouTube) will premiere at the event.

Even before his scheduled presentations, Flight of the Century is already generating enthusiasm at the event.

“Our booth has been full all day,” Yates said on Monday. “Dick Rutan stopped by and ended up staying about 45 minutes. It was so amazing to be able to have a peer-to-peer conversation with a legend of aerospace. It was one of the highlights of my day!”

Yates said he and his team will return to Inyokern for the next phase of their project —adding a recharging probe to the front of his aircraft to allow for in-flight “refueling.”

By 2014 Yates wants to be the first to fly the Lindberg route in an electronic airplane.

Story First Published: 2012-07-25