Science Teacher Plans First Coast-to-Coast Biofuel Flight

First transcontinental flight using aviation biofuel in a certified light aircraft.

Biofuel Powered Plane
High-school science teacher Ross McCurdy plans to pilot this Cessna 182 powered by biofuel across the United States.Paramus Flying Club

High-school science teacher Ross McCurdy is planning the first transcontinental flight using aviation biofuel in a certified light aircraft. McCurdy will launch from North Central Airport near Providence, Rhode Island, in a Cessna 182 around April 16 to fly 2,500 nautical miles to Santa Monica, California; he’ll depart from Santa Monica on Earth Day, April 22.

Along the way, McCurdy will host events to promote clean energy, aviation and science education. His 12-year-old son will accompany him on the trip, along with several other pilots who will join for portions of the flight; most are members of the Paramus Flying Club, which owns the plane.

McCurdy has planned stops at University Park Airport, in Pennsylvania; Moraine Airport, in Ohio; Walnut Ridge Regional Airport, in Arkansas; Grand Prairie Municipal Airport, in Texas; Dona Ana County Airport, in New Mexico; and Chandler Municipal Airport, in Arizona, and has stashed his special fuel blend at each airport.

A 50-50 blend of biofuel and Jet A will feed the Cessna 182’s SMA aviation diesel engine, making it 30 to 40 percent more efficient than the avgas-burning stock engine it replaced.

"With 50 percent of the fuel made from used cooking oil, the emissions and carbon footprint are significantly lower, so it is better for the environment," according to the project's website.

“Increasing energy efficiency and using renewable energy are the keys to a sustainable future. The Coast to Coast Biofuel Airplane Project will clearly demonstrate this to promote renewable energy, aviation and the excitement of real-world science education.”