QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport has had a busy few weeks. At the end of September, the small airport was home 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: A CX300 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 only two of its kind, and among five that the company has produced thus far as it serves clients and works to get certified with the FAA. Of those five, it’s flown the farthest – and not just among BETA planes.
“Using electric power speaks to the maturity of what we’ve developed,” said BETA Technologies team member Will Guisbond. “This aircraft that came to Glens Falls yesterday just recently did a 386-mile nonstop flight – the longest ever recorded on an electric plane.”
The CX300 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 relatively traditionally-constructed models, 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. BETA has two other models that may seem ordinary in the air, but which take off from the ground vertically, like a helicopter. A fifth 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. Guisbond said that each flight tells him and his team 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 a few offices in different states 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.
“We have an office in Plattsburgh, our main one in Vermont, as well as ones in Ohio, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. We spend a lot of time in New York, and love the state. It’s super awesome to pop in when we want to,” said Guisbond.