French engineer and helicopter pilot Pascal Chretien recently flew into the history books with an aviation feat that took him only about one meter off the ground.
Despite the low altitude, his completion of the first untethered, all-electric manned helicopter flight last month is quite an achievement. Flying a prototype he designed and built largely by himself over the course of a year, Chretien made it into the air for a total of 2 minutes and 10 seconds, beating out the likes of Sikorsky and others to become the first to reach such a milestone.
Chretien used an ultralight, coaxial-rotor design along with highly flammable Lithium ion polymer pouch cells to accomplish the first flight, which was backed by the French company Solution F.
While some successful strides have been made in the area of electric airplanes, the difficulties posed by the basic physics of helicopter flight have limited the advancements of electric power in the sector.
Since helicopters require a great amount of energy during several key phases of flight, including landing, the risks of testing an all-electric machine are great.
Chretien himself admitted the dangers involved, telling tech blog Gizmag that, “in case of a crash, I stand good chances to end up in kebab form.”