QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport has had a busy few weeks. At the end of September, the small airport was home to the 50th annual Adirondack Balloon Festival. This week, it had an even more unique visitor.
On Tuesday, the airport welcomed an all-electric airplane on a journey south across the east coast. The plane in question: An ALIA CTOL airplane by BETA Technologies, a Burlington, Vermont-based company looking to bring more renewable energy to the world of aviation. The plane is one of two that the company has produced thus far as it serves clients and works to get certified with the FAA.
Of those two, it’s flown the farthest – and not just among BETA planes. It recently completed a 386-mile nonstop flight – the longest ever recorded in an electric plane.
The CTOL made it to Floyd Bennett directly from BETA HQ in Burlington. Spanning 84 miles, the flight took 49 minutes and was the first stop on a journey to a client in Florida. BETA planes have taken trips of over 1,000 miles twice before, making round-trip journeys to and from Bentonville, Arkansas, and Louisville, Kentucky.
The prototype plane is one of two currently in operation from BETA, with a 50-foot wingspan and a capacity to carry passengers or cargo – the latter of which is the main selling point for BETA, which has use agreements with the U.S. Army and Air Force in addition to several international companies. The other plane BETA has in the skies is an ALIA VTOL, which takes off from the ground vertically, like a helicopter. A third, early proof-of-concept model has been retired.
The plane’s trip to Queensbury and Glens Falls may have just been one stop on a longer trip, but any flight is a data-gathering opportunity. Each flight tells BETA about aircraft performance, and about the needs of ground crews servicing an unusual type of plane.
Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport sees planes come and go for a few different purposes. Base operator Rich Air welcomes flights carrying cargo for nearby businesses, as well as hobbyists who keep planes there for personal use. BETA is still in the process of getting their technology FAA-approved, and has offices in Plattsburgh, Burlington, North Carolina, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., as it further proves what electric planes can do. Queensbury’s small airport is a favorite place to visit on the way to a broad, renewable future.