New Zealand strait crossed for first time by electric plane

Oct 31, 2021, 9:57 PM | Updated: 10:12 pm
The ElectricAir plane is on approach before landing at Wellington Airport in Wellington, New Zealan...

The ElectricAir plane is on approach before landing at Wellington Airport in Wellington, New Zealand, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. Seeking to highlight the potential for green aviation as a pivotal climate change conference opened in Glasgow, New Zealand pilot Gary Freedman made the first-ever flight over Cook Strait in an electric plane. (Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald via AP)

(Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald via AP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — As he made history by becoming the first person to fly across New Zealand’s Cook Strait in an electric plane, Gary Freedman thought it only fitting that the first thing he saw when approaching the Wellington coastline was the rotating blade of a wind turbine producing renewable energy.

Freedman’s 40-minute solo flight in the small two-seater came 101 years after the first person flew a conventional aircraft over the body of water that separates the South Pacific nation’s two main islands.

Monday’s flight was aimed at drawing attention to the possibilities of greener flying and timed to coincide with the opening of a pivotal U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

Wellington International Airport officials believe it may be the longest distance flown in an electric plane across any body of water.

“It’s a very exciting day for the airport. A world-record-setting day,” said spokesperson Jenna Raeburn.

Freedman said the day began badly with pouring rain at his departure point near the town of Blenheim. After delaying the flight for 15 minutes, the weather cleared just enough for takeoff and soon improved to sunny conditions over the ocean.

Freedman said he was ecstatic when he landed, and the technology worked better than he’d hoped.

“We still had 40% left in the battery,” he said. “We could have almost flown back again.”

Freedman, 49, who founded the company ElectricAir, said he’s long been passionate about the environment and the idea came as he thought about the incongruity of driving an electric car and flying a gas-powered plane.

He took a trip to Slovenia to buy a Pipistrel Alpha Electro plane, and then jumped through various hoops with New Zealand aviation regulators to get the plane cleared.

It weighs less than 400 kilograms (880 pounds) and is much quieter than a traditional aircraft. For the 78 kilometer (48 mile) trip, Freedman flew it at just 1,000 feet (305 meters) above sea level and at the relatively slow speed of 130 kilometers per hour (81 mph) in order to preserve its charge.

Freedman said it takes about one hour to fully charge the plane. The maximum flight time is also about an hour, and he mainly uses it for pilot training.

Wellington International Airport is preparing for regular short-hop flights of new 12-seater electric planes that will begin in about five years’ time, said Raeburn, the airport spokeswoman.

She said electric technology is not yet advanced enough to power large passenger planes, but biofuels and hydrogen will likely provide greener alternatives in the future.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Dutch farmers block entrances to supermarket warehouses

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch farmers angry at government plans to slash emissions used tractors and trucks Monday to blockade supermarket distribution centers, the latest actions in a summer of discontent in the country’s lucrative agricultural sector. The Netherlands’ busiest aviation hub, Schiphol Airport, urged travelers to use public transport to get to its […]
2 hours ago
Associated Press

Iran TV: Sandstorm shuts offices, schools in Tehran, region

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Schools and government offices closed in Iran’s capital and several other cities in the country on Monday, after yet another sandstorm blanketed Tehran and the surrounding region. State-run TV warned of poor air quality and advised the elderly, those sick and children to take precautions. Banks and the Tehran Stock Exchange […]
2 hours ago
FILE - Xiao Jianhua, a Chinese-born Canadian billionaire talks to reporters outside the Internation...
Associated Press

Canadian government: Tycoon in China due to stand trial

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese-born Canadian tycoon is being put on trial in China, Canada’s government said Monday, five years after he vanished from Hong Kong during an anti-corruption crackdown. Xiao Jianhua was due to stand trial Monday, a government statement said. It said Canadian diplomats were “monitoring this case closely” and provided unspecified services […]
2 hours ago
Associated Press

Data puts Turkey’s annual inflation at 78.6%, a 24-year high

ISTANBUL (AP) — Annual inflation in Turkey hit 78.62% in June, the highest rate since 1998, according to official data released Monday. The Turkish Statistical Institute, or TurkStat, released the monthly figures as Turkey is experiencing a deepening cost-of-living crisis. Consumer prices rose by 4.95% on a monthly basis, the institute reported. While many countries […]
2 hours ago
A person walks past a notice for customers posted on the entrance of an "au" mobile brand operator ...
Associated Press

Outages disrupt services at Japan’s No. 2 telecoms carrier

TOKYO (AP) — Many users of Japan’s No. 2 mobile carrier KDDI Corp. were still having trouble making calls Monday after a massive outage throughout the weekend that affected nearly 40 million people, disrupting deliveries, weather reports and other services across the country. The company said data transmission had largely been restored by Monday morning, […]
2 hours ago
Residential properties and roads are submerged under floodwater from the swollen Hawkesbury River i...
Associated Press

3 feet of rain sets up 4th round of flood misery for Sydney

SYDNEY (AP) — More than 30,000 residents of Sydney and its surrounds were told to evacuate or prepare to abandon their homes Monday as Australia’s largest city faces its fourth, and possibly worst, round of flooding in less than a year and a half. Days of torrential rain caused dams to overflow and waterways to […]
2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
New Zealand strait crossed for first time by electric plane