U.S. Air Force and BETA Technologies make history with first Airman flight of an electric aircraft through AFWERX Agility Prime Program

March 17, 2022
On March 9, USAF pilots Hank "Hog" Griffiths and Maj. Jonathan Appleby took turns piloting ALIA for several flight demonstrations, becoming the first Air Force pilots to fly in a eVTOL aircraft, Katie Milligan writes for the AFRL.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio  - United States Air Force pilots Hank “Hog” Griffiths and Maj. Jonathan Appleby flew BETA Technologies’ electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, ALIA, as the first-ever Airmen to fly an electric aircraft with a military airworthiness March 9, Katie Milligan writes for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). Continue reading original article.

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

17 March 2022 - Beta Technologies' ALIA took inspiration from the Arctic tern, which migrates to every continent.

The aircraft was designed as a cargo eVTOL with a usable cargo area of 250 square feet. The Alia - which is piloted - has a 50-foot wingspan with a range of 250 nautical miles or 50 minutes and is powered by air cooled battery blocks. Last spring, BETA announced that UPS would be purchasing up to 150 of the aircraft, plus charging stations.

The USAF have been working with BETA Technologies since 2020 to develop and refine ALIA.

“BETA has developed a unique eVTOL air system that is the complete package and includes an air vehicle and charging network that will surely compete well in this emerging competitive market,” said United States Air Force pilot Hank “Hog” Griffiths, who flew the aircraft, as did colleague Maj. Jonathan Appleby. “However, that is not surprising for a company that has embraced aviation; every employee is encouraged to take flight training, and their office spaces overlook their hangar where all of the BETA magic is happening. It has been a pleasure to work and fly with such a motivated and innovative group of people.”

Related: BETA inks deal to secure first 20 passenger Electric Vertical Aircraft (EVA) for Blade

Related: Unmanned hybrid-electric aircraft combining helicopter and rugged bush plane unveiled for cargo delivery

Related: Enabling technologies for urban air mobility

Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Intelligent Aerospace

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