Chip Yates does not like sitting still. Just a day after piloting his electric-powered Long EZ airplane to over 200 miles per hour – making him the fastest electric-airplane pilot in the world – he had to disassemble the airplane, pack it up and drive 2,000 miles east to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Here at Airventure, Yates continues to be busy answering questions about his record-setting run. And perhaps one of the more surprising answers is that Yates is a not a veteran test pilot. He just got his license in June and has about 58 hours of experience, including the record-setting run last week.
The rookie pilot had offers from a few of the most experienced test pilots and Long EZ pilots in the world, including SpaceShipOne pilot (and Long EZ builder/owner) Mike Melvill. But Yates was more concerned about the experimental power system than the airplane.
“Despite being an inexperienced pilot I still thought I was the best guy to fly this plane on this day,” Yates says. “I know the powertrain very well, I know where the limits are and how far I could push it. I didn’t want to be the guy that built the airplane that killed Mike Melvill.”