By Michael Reuter, FoxNews.com
On a journey from Panama to Costa Rica, a small plane passed by the Pacific shoreline and the splash of water couldn’t drown out the rumble of a heavy engine.
One plane flown by Trent Stoller from Mooresville, North Carolina, offers stunning views with no exhaust at all.
Stoller is the founder of AirFrame, a small plane made with an engine directly parallel to the ground. With airflow around the plane, like an airplane would, the metal cylinders can help generate 5kW of energy, about 10 times more than the range of electricity produced by solar cells.
The AirFrame can fly up to 10 hours and has a wingspan of 7 feet. And unlike a plane’s engine noise, Stoller assures it “doesn’t blow up.”
AirFrame is built in a warehouse about 20 miles outside of Fayetteville, North Carolina. The steel planes are painted in bright colors and the fuselage has a neon-green interior. People can purchase planes by credit card. All flights begin at $300 per hour and $600 for round trips.
The engines Stoller uses are propane-fueled. But the plane is powered entirely by the heat generated by the engine. It can run on normal fuels as well.
Stoller said he conceived of AirFrame while he was flying through Latin America. The plane is designed to transfer electricity generated by the plane directly to a laptop. For example, a person in San Diego could receive a text message while flying through Mexico.
The 27-year-old’s quest is to build a $10,000 plane that flies for about 80 minutes with a 280-mile range and an excellent engine. He started off by making one with the engines built differently.
After years of down the lab, he has now finished an all-metal, all-propane plane with the weight and hardware to power the flight. The company plans to join the world of electric airplanes, but says AirFrame will be “lighter, quieter, and longer lasting than current electric options.”
There are now other, similar planes. A plane with Pratt & Whitney engines took off from Fort Lauderdale International Airport in 2016 and returned the same day to land in North Carolina. But the more well-known flight was the Microlight Carlino with a Vought engine that left England in 1990 and landed in Port St. Lucie, Florida, in 1993.
So far, Stoller has not had any passengers on his plane. But he envisions having passengers flying out of Fayetteville to Costa Rica, Mexico and other destinations. He said the plane would only need some battery power.
“I just want it to be unobtrusive and go from zero to 100 without too much money spent and nobody knows we’re in there,” Stoller said.
“If it gets that traction, and we get people flying on it, it could be the cleanest aircraft in the sky.”