Could This Be the Year of the Electric Airplane?

Tom Peghiny's e-Spyder

At last year's AirVenture, Randall Fishman hushed the crowds with his whisper-quiet single-seat ElectraFlyer-C. This year, he's doubled down on that bet with plans to bring a two-place version called the ElectraFlyer-X. This one will draw juice from Fishman's self-designed 50-hp motor and battery combination. Pending development progress, he plans to fly the aircraft during AirVenture. Sonex Aircraft will have a non-flying display for the second year in a row, having announced plans to migrate from lead-acid battery power to lighter lithium polymer batteries. Chinese company Yuneec Aircraft is optimistic its electric-powered motorglider will be able to fly for the AirVenture crowds. And you may meet one other devotee of Yuneec's 20 kilowatt brushless motor. Tom Peghiny is president of Flight Design USA, which imports light sport aircraft from the German manufacturer. But Peghiny has been busy on his own time developing his e-Spyder, an ultralight version of an electric aircraft. As reported on (where else?) Wired Magazine's website, the e-Spyder flew for the first time last Sunday in Connecticut, and could appear at AirVenture. Peghiny met Yuneec's Tian Lu at this year's Aero Expo in Friedrichshafen, Germany. They signed an agreement under which an FAA-approved electric ultralight could be developed. The e-Spyder could be available for market in a matter of months at a price of $24,000.