Our article on “The Three Pauls” (November 15, 2009) assumed that Paul Crocker and Paul Dewhurst were the first to fly electrically in Britain. David Bremner, who had taken the pictures of the flights, set us straight, pointing out that Nigel Beale had been the first to fly with electric power in the UK – in 1996!
Doing a little Internet surfing, I found a great web site, The Battery Vehicle Society. A post by Kelvin in their June 20, 2007 blog gives the correct acknowledgement of Nigel’s accomplishment. Kelvin wrote this when Randall Fishman had successfully levitated his electrically powered trike in the US.
“Just to let you know though us Brits had an electric microlight in the air a long time ago
- Battery powered Microlight
- First flight May 1996 RAF Kemble
- Achieved 60m altitude
- Nickel Cadmium batteries (Varta)
- 4 minute duration
- DC brushed motor 10Kw (Lynch)
- Take off speed 120km/hour
- Flown by Nigel Beale (Cyclone Hovercraft Ltd)
- Motor controller (Curtis)”
Considering the state of battery development in 1996, Nigel’s accomplishment is a considerable step in electric flight.