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Higher Than a Kite

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Hemp is one of the most durable plants on Earth and used to make many products designed for strength including rope, canvas bags, home insulation and paper. Now it will be facing the ultimate test of strength as the world’s first plane made almost entirely out of hemp is produced.

Derek Kesek is a Canadian born in Sudbury who believes in this material and its continued widespread use, so he started a company based in Waterloo, ON called HempEarth. The company is designed to build incredible things with this robust resource, now finally seeing the light of day after years of government kiboshing because of its relation to its close cousin, marijuana.

HempEarth’s main project right now is building an airplane made entirely out of hemp, and on 4/20 Derek is launching a Kickstarter campaign to help raise the $ 375,000 needed to create the prototype. “The hemp plane is a four-seater, two diesel engine aircraft with a cruising speed a little over 210 miles per hour (340 kph), a wingspan of 36 feet (12 meters), that will be built from at least 75% hemp and will run completely on hemp biofuel,” a press release on the project stated. Derek added that “hemp is a sustainable crop that needs no pesticides or herbicides to grow, so the plane would have a carbon footprint significantly smaller than that of standard planes.”

This ambitious project and campaign, if successful, will officially take flight in a planned event on the first day of Spring, March 20th, 2017. The plane is projected to take off in an historic moment at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the same spot that the Wright Brothers made their game-changing first flight in 1903.

For those who think this might just be a publicity stunt and that it is not possible or practical to build a plane out of hemp, Derek adds that the research says differently. “Experts have tested the strength and durability of woven hemp material compared to fiberglass, the traditional material for aircraft, and determined that in most cases hemp is as strong, or stronger, than fiberglass.”

The main reason for this attention-getting project is to “create greater awareness about the importance of hemp to humanity and inspire even bigger hemp-based projects that can have a truly positive impact on earth.” Kesek said in the release.

Most recently Kesek was able to partner with a biofuel manufacturer in Costa Rica who was making fuel out of vegetable waste. With a little planning, Derek was able to source hemp seed oil from Manitoba and get it into Costa Rica, a country that still has laws against marijuana and hemp but is rapidly changing. “Upon receiving this oil, he was able to make bio-diesel fuel successfully.”

As 4/20 quickly approaches, Derek and his HempEarth team will be working to get the word out in the hopes of raising enough money to make this dream a reality. As you’re sparking up your favourite bud, visit Kickstarter to learn more about the campaign and perhaps be part of history in the making. If Derek is successful, we could all be flying high in the not-too-distant future.

insideplane

Photos courtesy of HempEarth

 

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