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Hemp airplane

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Flying high with hemp.

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The Canadian cannabis company Hempearth has designed the world’s first airplane that is made from and powered by cannabis. The primary material used is hemp – the non-psychoactive member of the cannabis family. Not only does this totally functional plane run on 100% hemp oil, but it was made entirely from cannabis. Everything from the seats, the wings, the plane walls and even the pillows contains hemp. This natural and earth-friendly material had been used for numerous purposes since ancient times, but in recent decades it fell into disuse due to confusion with its psychoactive cousin marijuana. This is finally changing as people realize the benefits of hemp, and this airplane is a symbol of that change.

Hemp is economical and easy to grow using very little water. In addition to being environmentally friendly, it is ten times more durable than fibreglass, flame retardant, and extremely lightweight. Hempearth CEO Derek Kesek says: “This plane project is our first experiment with industrial hemp, and we plan to explore many other uses. Once we establish structural testing and information from this project we will apply it to other forms of construction. The sky may not be the limit.” Even though hemp is not psychoactive, Canada’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana could boost the use of hemp in that country by eliminating the false stigma that has been attached to all cannabis products.

The Canadian cannabis company Hempearth has designed the world’s first airplane that is made from and powered by cannabis. The primary material used[…]

Can you imagine gaining altitude in a plane made of Mary Jane? This Canadian guy can.

Can you imagine gaining altitude in a plane made of Mary Jane?

One day, Canadian cannabis fanatic Derek Kesek let his mind wander, contemplating the infinite possibilities of hemp-based innovation. That’s when it occurred to him: while people have come up with some 25,000 uses for the herb, no one has yet built an airplane out of it and operate it on hemp fuel. So, what the heck, he resolved build the plane rather than let it become a pipe dream.

It wasn’t long before he signed a contract with a manufacturer in Florida to build a double engine, four-seater kit aircraft made seventy-five percent of hemp products shipped in from Canada where legalized hemp agriculture has been a thing since the late 90s. Just last year, Obama signed a farm bill that overturned laws criminalizing the cultivation of hemp since 1937, permitting nineteen states to grow it under strict stipulations.

To fund the $500,000 price tag needed to construct the aircraft, Kesek, CEO of Hempearth — an online shop that sells hemp products like guitars, food, and clothing — is in talks with sponsor companies and also running a Kickstarter campaign.

“I build things organically and take it one thing at a time,” Kesek said. “Richard Branson is my biggest inspiration because he is showing that it’s not business as usual any more: if you want something you go get it.”

Kesek argues the hemp materials in the plane will leave less of an environmental footprint than fiberglass, which if you didn’t already know, is what planes are typically made from. Fiberglass, made with polyester resin reinforced with glass fibers, has garnered a bad wrap among greenies. Its durability may make it virtually as indestructible as kryptonite because it doesn’t rot, corrode, or warp, but that also means it does not degrade easily and production can release potentially harmful air emissions and toxic waste. Hemp grows without the use of pesticides and reduces contaminants in the soil through a process called phytoremediation. Meanwhile, proponents of hemp ethanol say it emits less carbon monoxide and eliminates emissions of sulfur. In short, it’s way more, um, green.

Beyond fabric for the kitschy tie-dye t-shirt you wore to Burning Man last year, hemp has also been used to make paint, carpet, and hempcrete, a type of concrete substitute.

When the plane is completed later this year, it will make its debut flight at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in North Carolina. Kesek said he has also secured an airport a short distance away where they will take passengers on short jaunts. Kesek said he has also secured an airport a short distance away where they will take passengers on short jaunts. Oh wait, we wrote that last line already.

Can you imagine gaining altitude in a plane made of Mary Jane? This Canadian guy can.