Altitude records set at Inyokern Airport

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Altitude records set at Inyokern AirportIn the quiet, early-morning hours of last Friday, Chip Yates set three international records for altitude in an electric aircraft at Inyokern Airport. Although only a few were on hand to witness Yates’ latest aerospace feat, one of them was a Federation Aeronautique International official who was able to confirm and document the records.

Yates said that the FAI will issue a press release next week confirming the specific results, but noted that he and his team have definite plans to improve upon those records in the near future.

The three confirmed records are for time to climb to 3,000 meters, where his time of 6 minutes 28 seconds beats even gas-powered planes. He said his homebuilt electric plane would be “good enough to beat the climb performance of the vast majority of airplanes in the world.”

His other records were established for highest altitude and for sustained flight duration at more than 14,000 feet.

“It’s exciting to have these three official world records, but I think it’s even more exciting to know that we can continue to improve on those numbers and soon set the top speed records we want to do next,” said Yates. “We haven’t come close to maxing out our capabilities.”

Yates has been working on his electrically converted Long EZ for more than a year. Only weeks after his arrival at Inyokern in 2012 (and just days after receiving his pilot’s license) he was able to set a record for speed in an electric airplane at IYK.

Although his speed was tracked by China Lake — and his maximum of 202.2 miles per hour topped the existing record by a healthy margin — Yates will have to reestablish his speeds before international officials as he did for the altitude records. But he noted that he has already beaten his own speed record in test flights, documenting 218 miles per hour last week in the skies over Inyokern.

Yates’ achievements have made him the subject of many national and international profiles in both print and televised media, including a Discovery Channel special that aired last week. He has also been the keynote speaker for the experimental aircraft community and most recently before NASA.

But among Yates’ most excited fans are those who have watched him push the bounds of technological and human capability in the Indian Wells Valley.

“When I first met Chip in June 2012, and we discussed his plan for setting the world record for speed in an electric airplane, I was really excited,” said airport CEO Scott Seymour. “Then when we met six months ago and he told me he wanted to base his aircraft at Inyokern Airport full time and move all his assets from Orange County, I was blown away!

“These records that Chip has set here in the last week are truly incredible. The stuff he is doing with the electric airplane is very cutting edge and no one has ever attempted this before.

“Chip is truly an asset to Inyokern Airport and the Indian Wells Valley. He is putting Inyokern Airport and Cal UAS on the map. Chip is a great guy, and his enthusiasm and energy are just unbelievable. I am very proud to have him onboard at IYK!”

Yates said his testing the performance boundaries of his craft are part of a much broader goal of flying the Lindberg route in an electronic aircraft. With that goal in mind, he launched Yates Electrospace Corporation last year.

Despite continuing to make appearances across the country, Yates continues to live and work part time in the IWV. He said he will be returning soon to attempt records for speed.

Story First Published: 2013-09-11