One of the disadvantages of battery powered planes is that their weight remains the same as they fly whereas liquid fuel aircraft become lighter as they use up their fuel.
This realisation led Chip Yates, holder of the world record for the fastest electric motorcycle, to the idea of dropping batteries when their charge was depleted.
But having batteries falling out of the sky has obvious drawbacks. So the idea emerged of launching the batteries in small, unmanned guided aircraft and landing them at depots where they could be recharged.
An obvious extension of this, is to fly the recharged batteries, in their unmanned aircraft, back up to the mother planes. Chip Yates believes that one of the flying electric aircraft could fly non-stop for weeks, months or even years – and that it has potential applications in both civilian and military arenas.
Yates organization, called Flight of the Century, has acquired a plane to begin testing the idea. The plane, designed by legendary aerospace guru Burt Rutan in the 1970s, the Long-EZ has set several records, including endurance and distance records. The Long-EZ is currently being modified for electric flight, and will include using much of the technology that Yates and his team developed for his record-setting motorcycle.