Don’t be surprised if, by this time next year, you see a small hemp plane soaring overhead. The world’s first aircraft made from 75 percent hemp is due to take-off from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina – site of the Wright Brothers’ historic take-off – later this year. By replacing fiberglass with plant-based composites (hemp) and plastics, the 4-seater plane weighs less and is friendlier to the atmosphere. Add to this hemp-based bio-fuel (if approved by aviation regulations) and you have made a big, positive impact on pollution problems.
Derek Kesek is CEO and team leader of Hempearth Group Ltd.; they are the company responsible for taking on this project. Kesek is no stranger to working with nature to create a healthier planet. A former organic-restaurant owner in Burlington, Ontario, he founded Hempearth Group in 2012 to focus on developing hemp products for mass use.
Kesek cites Richard Branson and Elon Musk as being huge influences on his decision to move full-steam ahead on hemp projects.
Says Kesek, “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. The sky may not be the limit.”
The design and manufacture of the hemp plane is under contract with Velocity, Inc., a Florida-based small-plane manufacturer. The company tested the strength and durability of woven hemp material before committing to the proposal. The plane will be the color of natural hemp fiber, with a wingspan of 36 feet. Everything from the outer shell and wings to seats and pillows will be constructed of hemp-based material.
Hemp is up to ten times stronger than fiberglass, lighter, flame retardant and leaves virtually zero footprint on the environment. Hemp is also the most bio-diverse crop on earth and has over 25,000 uses and counting. Canada has been ahead of the U.S. in the growth of industrial hemp since the late 1990s and would, no doubt, be instrumental in providing the material needed for such a large project.