Green flight challenge gets Google backing

Snoopy will have more than the Red Baron to keep an eye on as competitors take to the skies above California’s Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport this fall in pursuit of a $1.65 million prize for fuel-efficient aircraft. 

NASA’s putting up the award for any design team that can build a plane capable of flying 200 miles with speeds of at least 100 miles per hour, all with efficiencies of 200 passenger miles per gallon.

Search giant Google continues its support of environmental initiatives with its sponsorship of the Green Flight Challenge.

That sponsorship was announced by the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency Foundation, which will run the Sept. 25-Oct. 2 event.

CAFE said most of the participants in the challenge will fly planes powered by batteries and electric motors, while others will use bio-fuel or hybrid engines.

Google’s sponsorship pays for an electric aircraft charging station that uses electricity from The Geysers, a geo-thermal power plant in the Mayacama Mountains north of Santa Rosa. 

That electricity will be used to recharge batteries on electric-motor powered aircraft in an attempt during the competition to demonstrate the possibility of “practical, emission-free cross-country flight,” CAFE said in its release.

The competition will also feature other prizes, including one for the use of bio-fuels and another for the quietest aircraft. That prize will be presented by Charles Lindbergh’s grandson, Erik. Additionally, other technologies related to green aviation will be on display.

Bill Lascher, EarthTechling