Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Father, son to fly biofuel plane from Rhode Island to California

SMITHFIELD, R.I. — A father and son team will be flying a small Cessna airplane from Rhode Island to California next month, but it's what's in the tank that makes this trip special.

The plane is fueled by renewable, sustainable biodiesel.

On April 16, weather permitting, Ross and Aedan McCurdy will take off from North Central Airport in Smithfield. In the tank: diesel fuel made from oil squeezed out of Camelina plant seeds mixed with regular aviation jet fuel.

"Plants like Camelina, they don't take a lot of water or fertilizer. They can grow in northern climates. The seeds are 40 percent oil that can be turned in to fuel," said Ross McCurdy about why he's so psyched about the trip.

He's also a teacher at Ponaganset High School, and he did a bio flight a few years back to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The biofuel in that plane was made from recycled cooking grease, but this coast-to-coast trip will make the history books.

"This is not an experimental aircraft. It's not experimental fuel. All certified, and this will be the first flight," Ross McCurdy said.

After leaving Smithfield, the McCurdys will be stopping off at six airports before they get to Santa Monica to top off their tank with 10 five-gallon drums of biofuel.

Renewable, sustainable biofuel makes us less dependent on foreign oil, and it's more efficient. On top of the fact that one acre of Camelina makes 50 gallons of fuel.

"The typical (aviation gasoline) engine uses about 13 to 14 gallons per hour, and this one uses about eight, eight and a half gallons per hour. So, 30 to 40 percent savings in fuel," Ross McCurdy said.

Not to mention spectacular! Aedan McCurdy said he can't wait.

"It's just a lot of fun. You can see everything from just a different view," he said.

To follow along, to find out more, or to sponsor, visit the Coast to Coast Biofuel Airplane Project website.

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