The patchwork of farms and wetlands disappearing in all directions below made it hard to believe the world’s largest gathering of airplanes was being celebrated just a few miles away. More astonishing was that the alternative fuel powering the airplane’s 200 hp Lycoming was more efficient, safer and cleaner than avgas, and also costs under a buck a gallon. “Why isn’t everyone using this?” one had to wonder. Oh, yes: because the proof-of-concept fuel system on this certificated aircraft makes it the only one in the world that can use the plentiful and readily available alternative fuel—as of now.
A Here-And-Now Alternative Fuel
The quest for a 100LL avgas alternative has become general aviation’s Holy Grail, sending academic research teams, large companies and basement tinkerers searching for a philosopher’s stone that can transmute batteries, biomass, sunlight or a host of pie-in-the-sky technologies into the gold of efficient, affordable, nonpolluting flight. So, it was a surprise to see a here-and-now solution to the avgas crisis, whipped up in six months’ time, fly into AirVenture this year virtually under the radar, like Fred MacMurray’s flubber-powered Model T landing on the White House lawn in Disney’s classic The Absent-Minded Professor.