Will Fly Electric Trike For Record Attempt On June 21
Weather permitting, at 1100 EDT on Saturday, June 21st, Gary Davis will attempt to set a world altitude record for a particular class of electric aircraft. Gary Davis has been in love with aviation ever since he was a Boy Scout progressing towards Eagle Scout. That was a time when he, like most boys his age, liked cars and girls. In one day that changed. Well, at least the “cars” part.
Davis was in need of more Boy Scout badges. A neighbor of his was an aviation badge instructor so he thought this will be easy! This endeavor lead to a trip to a local grass strip airport, his first flight and the rest is history.
“For 39 years, I have been flying gliders and various type aircraft. It has been mostly smooth sailing,” stated Gary Davis. “The only inconvenience I’ve encountered was power failures with my first ultralight. It then became a glider and I didn’t have 100% control of where I would land. It can land in a very short space so finding a spot wasn’t too hard. Most of the time it worked out fine but one time back in 1981 I had to land on Clemson’s Football practice field. It was during the game between Wake Forest and Clemson. On that Halloween day Clemson beat Wake Forest 82 to 24! The police took my name and contact information but I never heard from them again,” Davis noted.
“Back then, I flew a gas powered model. I switched over to electric about 2 years ago because it is a little less noisy to run, quite a bit cheaper to fuel, and is the “green” thing to do! Flying for one hour on an electric battery costs me about 30 cents worth of energy. Gas power would be about $6 dollars!” noted Davis.
Davis’ electric trike can fly at a cruising speed of about 28 miles per hour. It is called a trike because it has a 3 wheel “tricycle” landing gear system. It takes Davis about 40 minutes to assemble the craft and fully charged it can run about an hour, if he conserves energy and glides it, when possible. Davis hopes to catch some thermal currents and achieve as high an altitude as he can. This will set the world the record since no one has tried it before. His guess? Anywhere from 300 feet to 2 miles up!
If achieved, his flight will go on record with The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI - The World Air Sports Federation). Founded in 1905, this non-governmental and non-profit international organization established rules for the control and certification of world aeronautical records, of which it keeps, along with performing many other functions.
“One of aviation's futures lies in electric powered aircraft, and many ground-breaking steps have been made in motors, batteries and aircraft structures toward that end. Electric aircraft have been flying for several years now and have been improved and refined for various applications including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Experimental and Light Sport passenger aircraft,” stated Mark D. Spang, local pilot and Part Owner of USAeroTech Institute, a Professional Aircraft Maintenance Training school at the Greenville Downtown Airport.
Airbus recently released a video about EFAN, an electric aircraft they designed, constructed and are flying. “If big corporations with money are starting down this path, I will see electric flight as a norm before I’m too old to fly them,” stated Davis.
Davis might not fit most people’s idea of an experimental aircraft pilot. His “day job” is the Managing Director of Nachman,Norwood & Parrott, a wealth management and retirement plan consulting firm in Downtown Greenville. He holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from Clemson University and serves as treasurer for the Rotary Club of Greenville East.
“GREENville, is on the cutting edge of many environmental movements. While this is not an aircraft that we currently see using the Greenville Downtown Airport it might be the start of a wave of new electrical aircraft in the future!,” stated Joe Frasher, Airport Director. “We are happy to help host his attempt and applaud his effort to help bring public awareness to the electrical power movement.”
(Trike images provided by Greenville Downtown Airport)