By Steve Elliott
If things go according to plan, the world's very first hemp airplane could make its maiden flight as early as this fall.
The plane, composed of 75 percent hemp, will take off from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, chosen for its symbolic value as the site of the first flight by the Wright Brothers. The project is part of Canadian Derek Kesek's plan to help get industrial hemp use noticed, reports Deb Hopewell at Outside.
"There are many advantages to using hemp," said Kesek, who founded Hempearth, a Waterloo, Ontario-based company focused on developing hemp products for mass use. "This plane project is just our first experiment with industrial hemp, and we plan to explore many uses.
"Once we establish structural testing and information from the hemp project, we will take that and work on the next best implication," Kesek, a former organic-restaurant owner in Burlington, Ontario, said. "The sky may not be the limit."
Kesek believes hemp can be used to replace the fiberglass currently used to build airplanes. This is important because hemp is carbon neutral, whereas the fiberglass manufacture creates air pollution, releasing styrene into the atmosphere.
“Our experts have tested the strength and durability of woven hemp material compared to fiberglass, the traditional material for aircrafts, and determined that in most cases hemp is as strong, or stronger, than fibreglass,” according to Hempearth.