From Oshkosh to Australia

By Joelle Maxfield

The first time I saw Colin Hutchison and Vaughan Wellington, it was from behind a table in the busy International Visitors Tent at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019. I couldn’t have known that within a month I’d be traveling to Australia to help them build the first Australian-designed electric airplane in Mittagong, New South Wales, among the hills of the Southern Highlands.

volunteered in the International Visitors Tent with my mother since I was a
little girl. Born and raised in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, EAA is in my blood now and
I look forward to it every year. I can’t remember a time that I haven’t gone to
EAA with her and listened to the languages of the world while we, ourselves,
spoke Dutch to the few visitors from the Netherlands. I’ve enjoyed meeting new
people each year and have kept close friendships with people from all over the
world. So last year, when the usual couple from Sydney weren’t able to make it
to EAA to work in the tent, I helped at the table for Australian visitors. It
was in the group of 386 Australians who checked into our tent, that two kept me

Hutchison, an aerospace engineer, had a booth nearby where he was displaying
the model of an electric airplane he had designed and was building, the
Electron E-75. The Electron E-75 is an all-electric, two-seater kit aircraft
borne of Colin’s idea to build the world’s fastest electric aircraft. That idea
morphed when Colin met his business partner, Vaughan Wellington, who suggested
it become a two-seater for more practical purposes. Vaughan is an interesting
man in his own right, fully committed to doing what he can to help the planet,
even trolling the ocean for plastics with his Viking ship. He is a true

accepted Colin’s offer to come and assist them in their project. Making the
move in late August to Australia was stressful, but exhilarating. My time here has
flown by with a speed I didn’t know existed. As someone who (admittedly) didn’t
know too much about kit aircraft, my mind has been opened. I’ve helped make fibreglass
moulds for carbon fibre layups, prepped for resin infusions, and written major
parts of the POH and plane kit instructions.

has been busy making fibreglass moulds for carbon fibre parts with Ray
Tolhurst, owner of Wedgetail Aircraft at Camden Airport. Ray was one of the
pioneers of the ultralight revolution in Australia, building the famous
Grasshopper and later designing and building the Stingray, the first cantilever
all-fibreglass winged ultralight aircraft in the world. I’m intrigued by the
work Ray does; the process of making moulds is slow and steady, but the parts
that have come out so far are clean and perfect. We’re getting closer to having
all the parts ready to begin assembling. We hope to be flight testing within
the coming months.

Electron E-75 was designed to be high performance. Colin wanted it to have as
long of flights as possible and be exciting to fly. He’s hoping to bring high
performance to general aviation without carbon emissions and pollution — and
reduce costs of usage. With the Electron, we’re hoping that more aviators will
make a change to electric and help the environment while also reducing their
own flying costs. Flights in an equivalent aircraft are probably 60-80 dollars
an hour to operate and maintain. Ours will be 6-8 dollars an hour in
electricity — and an additional 10 dollars an hour if you factor in battery
replacement costs — with little to no maintenance on the engine.

added benefit of electric aircraft is when changing batteries — pilots will see
an increase in performance and endurance because battery technology will only
get cheaper and more energy dense as time goes on. New technology will see our
aircraft increasing in benefits as time goes on — performance, range endurance,
and battery capacity.

last change that electric aviation has to make is the regular installation of
electric chargers at airports. We’ve all seen communal electric chargers and
public car-charging stations and they’ve become more readily available as the
years go on. We know that there will need to be another great push for electric
charging stations to be available for aircraft. While electric aircraft may not
be commonplace yet, we consider what we do the next big step in
emission-conscious travel. We believe that electric aircraft are also the
future of flight training; with fuel costs at a minimum, it will become less
expensive to learn to fly. We want to give the next wave of aviators the chance
to pick electric and know, just like electric car drivers who plan their trip
with charging stations in mind, they too can fly with confidence in their next
fuel stop.

The opened door to the possibilities of electric aircraft is exciting, and I’m happy to be in the middle of it. I’m proud to be a newly minted woman in aviation. It’s sometimes hard being so far away from Oshkosh, but the world of aviation in Australia is just as avid as back home. Vaughan, Colin, and I will be back again to Oshkosh for AirVenture with our work, and it’ll be interesting to see EAA from an exhibitor’s point of view. I can’t wait to come back home and introduce you all to the Electron E-75.

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