Learjet Biodiesel World Flight Planned

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A Florida pilot is hoping to fly a Learjet around the world on biodiesel in the next year. Douglas Rodante and his group Green Flight flew a Czech-built L-29 to about 16,000 feet in Nevada last October on biodiesel and is hoping the FAA will let him take the same aircraft on an eight-stop trip across the U.S. later this year. He’ll need the frequent fuel stops because the L-29 was purposely built with short range to discourage defections. It was also designed to run on a variety of fuels, including home heating oil, which made it a preferred choice for the first flights. By the end of the year or early next he hopes to attempt the Learjet circumnavigation and there are some technical challenges awaiting. Biodiesel is often made from recycled cooking oil, which congeals when it gets cold. Rodante says tank heaters will be added to the Lear and he may have to add chemicals to prevent the fuel from thickening. As a last resort he’ll add kerosene to thin the fuel. He claims that if the cooking oil mixture alone is used, the Lear will release up to 80 percent less pollution than if it was burning jet fuel. The FAA is keeping a close eye on the project and Rodante said he needs some sponsors to pull it off. If it launches, Rodante, a TV producer by trade, plans to make a documentary.