Coast-To-Coast Biofuel Flight Planned

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A high-school science teacher is planning to fly a Cessna 182 from coast to coast next month using aviation biofuel made from Camelina plant seed oil. "We'll use a 50-50 blend of aviation biofuel and Jet A to power the fuel-sipping SMA diesel engine," said Ross McCurdy, who plans to launch from North Central Airport near Providence, Rhode Island, around April 16, and fly to Santa Monica, California. The blended fuel is a drop-in replacement for Jet A and can be used in jet engines, turboprop engines and aviation diesel engines. McCurdy has taken delivery of two 55-gallon drums of the special fuel at North Central, and has cached the fuel, in five-gallon cans, at airports along the route. "It's easier to handle that way, we can just pour it into the plane," he said.

McCurdy is planning to host events at the stops along his route to promote aviation, science education and clean energy. He's bringing along his 12-year-old son for the flight, and several other pilots who will fly along at different times, most of them members of Paramus Flying Club, based in New Jersey, which owns the airplane. "Our goal is to demonstrate the potential of renewable energy," McCurdy said. "This will be the first transcontinental flight using aviation biofuel in a certified light aircraft." The planned flight stops are University Park Airport, in Pennsylvania; Moraine Airport, near Dayton, Ohio; Walnut Ridge Regional Airport, in Arkansas; Grand Prairie Municipal Airport, in Texas; Dona Ana County Airport, in New Mexico; Chandler Municipal Airport in Arizona; and Santa Monica. He plans to depart Santa Monica on April 22, Earth Day. McCurdy has been planning the flight for several years; we first interviewed him about the project in 2012, and in 2013 he flew the 182 from Providence to Kitty Hawk and back.