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In the exhilarating intersection of aviation and innovation, Electric Aeroplane Racing has taken flight, redefining the boundaries of what’s possible in the realm of aerial sports. This “high-octane” sport combines the thrill of aerial speed with the sustainable power of electric propulsion, promising a greener and faster future for air racing enthusiasts. The most popular tournament for electric aeroplane racing is Air Race E, based out of Dubai.

What is Electric Aeroplane Racing?

Electric Aeroplane Racing is a competitive Machina Sport that pits electric-powered aircraft against each other in a thrilling race through the skies. These cutting-edge aircraft, propelled by electric motors, showcase the potential of clean energy in the world of aviation. Pilots navigate challenging racecourses, pushing the limits of speed and maneuverability in an electrifying spectacle. Pushing speeds of up to 400 kph just 15 meters above the ground, it’s no wonder thrill-seekers engage in this event.

Brief History

The roots of Electric Aeroplane Racing can be traced back to the early 21st century when advancements in electric propulsion technology began making their mark in the aviation industry. As concerns about environmental sustainability grew, the idea of electric-powered air racing gained traction. By converting a Cassutt III aircraft to electric propulsion, the first Air Race E place would be built by the University of Nottingham. This university would spend over £13m on the “Beacons of Excellence” program which aims at building smart products, feeding the growing world population, further developing propulsion to make it more sustainable, and many more.  On the 28th January 2022, the first flight of a piloted electric race plane was achieved by the Nordic Air Racing Team.

Nordic Air Racing Team

In 2020, Electric Aircraft Propulsion AS was founded to create the Nordic Air Racing Team, the first Scandanavian electric air racing team. The team had many founding partners including Equator Aircraft AS, Inet AS and Sola Aircraft Center AS and their main goal was to develop an all electric powertrain used in Air Racing. Of these partners, Equator Aircraft had already been involved with developing electric drivetrains. Of the team members, the team leader is Øystein Solheim-Aune. Oystein has years of expertise building, maintaining, and rebuilding experimental aircraft. He is also a private pilot and project engineer for electronics and automation. In addition, he has served on the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 573 Norway’s board for a long time.

Hardware

Electric Aeroplanes

These aircraft are specifically designed for speed and agility. They are equipped with high-performance electric motors, cutting-edge battery technology, and aerodynamic features to maximize efficiency and reduce drag.

Safety Gear

With top speeds of 400 kph, not only does the craft have to be safe, but the gear needs to be protective. Pilots wear specialized safety gear, including helmets, flight suits, and parachutes, ensuring their protection in case of emergencies.

The Course

Electric Aeroplane Racing takes place on custom-designed racecourses that challenge pilots with a combination of straightaways, tight turns, and altitude changes. These courses are strategically designed to test the pilots’ skills and the capabilities of their electric aircraft. Often the shape of Nascar courses, these races are mostly 5km long, held all around the world. 

How can I get involved?

For those aspiring to take flight in Electric Aeroplane Racing, the journey begins with a passion for aviation and a commitment to embracing sustainable technology. Prospective pilots typically undergo rigorous training, acquiring the necessary flight hours and mastering the nuances of electric aircraft operation. Joining local flying clubs, attending aviation schools, and connecting with the Electric Aeroplane Racing community are essential steps toward entering this thrilling sport. Since the sport is very competitive, pilots need to be very experienced as the stakes are high.

The Future

Electric Aeroplane Racing represents a paradigm shift in the aviation landscape, marrying speed and sustainability in a spectacle that captures the imagination. As the sport continues to gain momentum, it serves as a testament to the boundless possibilities of electric aviation, offering a thrilling glimpse into the future of air racing. The progression of the sport would seek to provide greater funding. Many large organizations have already started turning to electric aviation, such as Rolls Royce, Airbus and Siemens. This funding and greater recognition leads to greater advancements such as more availability to everyday people, increasing speeds and maneuverability, more obstacles and greater competition, and the ability to attract a greater audience, not just those fascinated with aviation. The enhancement of electrical propulsion is already in the works, not only for the benefit of the sport itself. Lithium, liquid hydrogen, and other sources of fuel are being used and explored.   

A lifelong sports enthusiast with a recent interest in technology, Web3, and cryptocurrency. Every weekend you can find me watching football(soccer) and keeping up to date with stocks and crypto. Writing about the things I love and hopefully painting a picture for the reader.

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FuturePlay Exclusive: Zephatali Provides Insider Perspectives on Airspeeder Racing

Dive into the thrilling world of Airspeeder racing with champion pilot Zephatali Walsh! Discover his journey from drone surfing to piloting these high-tech flying cars, the future of racing and transportation.

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FuturePlay Interview with Flying Car Racer Zephatali Walsh

In the heart of the Airspeeder headquarters, Lexie Janson interviews Zephatali Walsh, a three-time flying car racing champion and seasoned Airspeeder pilot. Interestingly, Zeph’s journey into the world of Airspeeder racing had unconventional beginnings – he was once a surfer, riding the waves of adrenaline in a different realm. Let’s hear from Zeph and Lexie as they talk about all the new updates with flying cars.

How did he get started?

Zeph’s initiation came through the captivating world of First Person View (FPV) drone racing. Intrigued by videos showcasing daring drone flights, his curiosity intensified after stumbling upon an interview with an Australian racing pilot who mentioned he gained notoriety in the space by using a simulator. Zeph swiftly gained recognition by honing his skills in a simulator, seamlessly bridging the virtual and real worlds. 

During his first week of playing the simulator, fate brought him face-to-face, or screen-to-screen with Min Chan Kim (MCK), a prominent drone racer, in a gaming server. This encounter catapulted Zeph into the Drone Champions League (DCL), where he not only participated but also earned a spot on their draft team

Because of Australia’s heavy regulations and small incentives to continue drone racing, Zeph looked outward to find new income streams. As he was surfing the web he came across an Airspeeder video and liked it even more, especially since they were located in his hometown.

How is flying car racing progressing?

Zeph starts off by mentioning how it is a tough endeavor and that the technology, regulations, and sporting aspects have made the road more difficult and slowed down the process more than they would like. 

One of the good things about Airspeeder is what they want to build. While most companies are focusing on flying taxis and replacing helicopters, eventually we want to have these crafts used for personal transportation. More developments can happen when the vehicle is designed for racing, making it better for consumer use. 

While they couldn’t go into the details, another problem with the tech is the augmented reality aspect that allows racers to see a virtual track on their screens. Zeph acknowledges the intricacies but sees them as stepping stones towards perfecting the racing experience for both enthusiasts and future commuters.

What do you think is the future of sport?

We have a lot of sports where the machine meets the athlete, such as drone racing, flying car racing, jetpack racing, and more. Zeph believes the main problem humans face is that we have a limit on what we can do, whereas machines have more capabilities both physically and learning wise. 

Zeph also raises an interesting question, since taking drugs for athletes is cheating, will adding technology to humans also be considered cheating? Would someone with Elon Musk’s Neuralink chip be considered cheating since they are enhancing their body, or going past their limitations? 

Maybe one day we’ll be able to control our flying cars with our minds, and Zeph believes we aren’t too far from this becoming a reality.

He mentions that he was studying psychological science at university, and acknowledges that we are on a path of innovation, wanting to create more. This strive for more allows us to go into subjects like quantum computing, and make it possible for tools like ChatGPT and Gemini to be built and constantly updated, or adapt.

What type of Machina Sports are you watching?

Zeph tells us that his personal picks are drone racing, flying car racing, and robot wars. His main Instagram feed consists of drone racing, flying cars, and photography, which reflects his passion for the intersection of technology and sports. You could even argue that photography and cinematics have some elements of Machina Sports, combining humans with machines. 

What is the future of Airspeeder?

Crewed flights. The ambition is clear – real pilots in real crafts racing through the skies and not just using a simulation to race. Sooner rather than later, they want all eVTOLs to be racing each other in the air using their teams in the craft itself. While the process seems slow, they are doing it as fast as they can. The team is putting a great risk with their crafts even just flying them with a remote because of all the resources, time, and technology that goes into each one. 

While drone racing is much more popular, the team at Airspeeder wants flying car racing to be the same with its mainstream adoption. Where it will be as common as drone racing in everyday conversations. The tech of these drones is impeccable and capable of going 0-200 kmph in less than 2 seconds. However, the major drawback to the sport is that the drones are very small making it somewhat difficult to view.

Zeph also goes on to give props to Elon and everyone at Tesla and SpaceX, and how they are bringing more mainstream adoption of technology with humans. And that the performance is what makes people buy, not marketing anything of the sort.

The same is true with what they are doing at Airspeeder. Showcasing the technology of flying cars, and letting the people become excited themselves instead of making large strides for marketing.

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