The E-Flight Challenge 2023 pitted an electric plane against an electric car in a journey across Germany, in order to determine which would be first to reach the finishing line. Our AeroTime journalist was on-site, providing live coverage of all the unfolding updates via X (formerly Twitter).
The challenge of electric flight
Embarking on the journey were two electric-powered vehicles: a Lucid Motors car and a solar aircraft called Elektra Trainer.
Prior to the launch, AeroTime’s Miquel Ros had the opportunity to interview Calin Gologan, the CEO of Elektra Solar, a company which designs and builds electric aircraft. According to Gologan, the Elektra Trainer was designed to be used especially by flight schools and flying clubs, with noiseless operations and low operational costs in mind.
The project’s objective was to showcase the pace of development and technological advancements over recent times. Technological improvements have enabled flights five times longer, and to destinations significantly further away, compared to just three years ago.
Ros spoke with Uwe Nortmann, a pilot who compared the current challenge to a similar one in 2020 that saw a team of electric flight enthusiasts, amongst them some of the organizers of this new challenge, flying a Pipistrel Velis along a roughly similar route.
“We flew from the Alps to Norderney using the first-ever electric aircraft, which had an endurance of about 30 minutes. And now we can fly for up to three hours,” Nortmann explained.
So, who arrived first: The e-plane or the e-car?
Initially, the route for the journey was planned to go from the Alps to the island of Norderney, Germany. However, due to adverse weather conditions, the route was adjusted by approximately 300 kilometers, departing from Gelnhausen, near Frankfurt am Main, instead of Memmingen, Bavaria.
Both the Elektra Trainer and the Lucid Motors car commenced their journey simultaneously at 11:15 am on August 29, 2023, from the Gelnhausen airfield near Frankfurt. A few hours later, the e-plane reached its charging stop in Oerlinghausen, near Bielefeld, while the car raced ahead to reach the 17.15 Norddeich to Norderney ferry.
So, which vehicle managed to reach the island of Norderney in the North Sea first?
If you placed your bet on the car, you guessed right!