Norfolk airfield to host testing of 'world-first' electric plane
- Credit: Matt Wilkins
A Norfolk airfield is set to host testing of a "revolutionary" solar and wind-powered aircraft - said to be the first of its kind in the world.
While famous for its USAAF history and association with vintage aviation, Old Buckenham Airfield will soon play its part in a new dawn of sustainable flight.
The craft, a Zenith CH750 labelled as an "electric sky Jeep", has been adapted by NUNCATS, a non-profit community interest company.
Based on a tried and tested light aircraft and converted to electric power, it is hoped the plane will support remote communities across the world to deliver crucial supplies.
Tim Bridge, who lives near Shipdham and is the founder of NUNCATS, said: “Globally, more than two billion people living in rural communities don’t have access to basic healthcare.
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"Opportunities for education or employment are also limited because communities lack critical transport infrastructure.
"Our electric sky Jeep would be a lifeline to these communities. NUNCATS was set up as a mission-led community interest company to deliver exactly this."
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While light aviation plays a critical role in the developing world, refuelling facilities are scarce and conventional fuel expensive.
NUNCATS is aiming to offer a power system that includes renewable energy charging stations for vulnerable communities.
It will be supported by local charging stations, building on renewable energy micro grids which are already used to provide power for medical and educational facilities in remote areas.
The company also plans to offer power systems to some of the 30,000 "non-certified” light aircraft in the USA and Europe, which could be converted to electric power.
Matt Wilkins, aerodrome manager at Old Buckenham Airfield, which will soon celebrate it's 80th birthday, added: "It’s a great source of pride that the airfield has encompassed the heroic B-24 Bomber Crews of the Second World War, all the way through to a new era of environmentally-friendly flight.
"We are particularly delighted the aircraft developed and created here will help save lives in underdeveloped parts of the world.
"Along the way we’ll be the first airfield in the UK, possibly the world, to apply for permission to install solar aircraft charging facilities."
Visit crowdfunder.co.uk/nuncats to support NUNCATS' crowdfunding campaign.