History of Wireless Electromagnetic Powered Flight Timeline & Replications
Ever since the dawn of powered flight, it has been necessary for all aircraft to carry onboard fuel — whether in the form of batteries, fuel, solar cells, or even a human "engine" — in order to stay aloft! Progress in powering aircraft wirelessly with a transmitter or electromagnetic natural source such as the sun has been slow. The following Timeline embraces some of the major influential events, historical firsts and replications.
The Birth of Wireless Powered Flight without an onboard power supply.
Microwave to DC Convertor
The First Wireless Electricity Tethered Flight without an onboard Power Supply.
The next major leap forward was Bill Brown's rectenna helicopter in 1964 where he demonstrated a microwave powered helicopter that received all the power needed for flight from a ground based microwave beam, this may have been the first time that an aircraft did not carry an on board power source and flew solely from the power transmitted from the ground based transmitter!
Key to future applications of WPT (Wireless Power Transmission) or WiTricity as coined recently is the overall efficiency or ratio of power output to power input. In the 1969 to 1975 time period, Bill Brown managed a program that increased the overall efficiency, or ratio of DC power out to DC power in, to a JPL certified efficiency of 54%, several times greater than generally expected. He was also technical director of a JPL Raytheon program that beamed power over a distance of one mile to a rectenna which intercepted a portion of the beam and converted it to 30 kilowatts of DC power with 84% efficiency.