Synopsis A battery-powered aircraft with no internal combustion has been a goal of engineers ever since the Wright brothers. Kitty Hawk. The invention of the jet engine. And on a frozen Vermont morning, circling above Lake Champlain, the Alia . In the mind of Christopher Caputo , a pilot, each moment signals a paradigm shift in aviation. “You’re looking at history,” Caputo said recently, speaking from the cockpit of a plane trailing the Alia at close distance. It had an exotic, almost whimsical shape, like an Alexander Calder sculpture, and it banked and climbed in near silence. It is, essentially, a flying battery. And it represented a long-held aviation goal: an aircraft with no need for jet fuel and therefore no carbon emissions, a plane that could take off and land without a runway and quietly hop from recharging station to recharging station, like a large drone. The Alia was made by Beta Technologies , where Caputo is a flight instructor. A 5-year-old startup that is unusual in many respects, the company is the brainchild of Martine Rothblatt, founder of Sirius XM and pharmaceutical company United Therapeutics, and Kyle Clark, a Harvard-trained engineer and former professional hockey player. It has… Read full this story
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