The world's first electric-powered full-size helicopter

Martine Rothblatt | From Wikipedia

Martine Aliana Rothblatt (born 1954) is an American lawyer, author, and entrepreneur. Rothblatt graduated from University of California, Los Angeles with a combined law and MBA degree in 1981, then began to work in Washington, D.C., first in the field of communications satellite law, and eventually in life sciences projects like the Human Genome Project. She is the founder and Chairwoman of the Board of United Therapeutics. She was also the CEO of GeoStar and the creator of SiriusXM Satellite Radio. She was the top earning CEO in biopharmaceutical industry in 2018.


In September 2016, the world's first electric-powered full-size helicopter took flight at Los Alamitos Army Airfield. This historic flight was conceived and mathematically demonstrated by Martine Rothblatt, President of Lung Biotechnology PBC, specified and implemented by Glen Dromgoole of Tier 1 Engineering and piloted by Ric Webb of OC Helicopters. The helicopter, a modified Robinson R44 weighed 2500 pounds with its test pilot, flew for five minutes, attained 400 feet and exceeded 80 knots airspeed, all completely powered by rechargeable batteries. Design and development partners in the project include Rinehart Motion Systems and Brammo, Inc.. The project which was sponsored by Lung Biotechnology PBC is the first phase in the development and production of an Electrically-Powered Semi-Autonomous Rotorcraft for Organ Delivery (EPSAROD). Lung Biotechnology PBC intends to apply the EPSAROD technology to distributing manufactured organs for transplantation to major hospitals with much less noise and carbon footprint than current technology.

On February 16, 2017, Rothblatt's electric helicopter established new world records of a 30 minute duration flight and a 800 foot altitude at Los Alamitos Army Airfield. At the end of the flight, the 2500 pound helicopter still had 8% state of charge remaining in its Brammo batteries. On March 4, 2017, Rothblatt and Ric Webb set a world speed record for electric helicopters of 100 knots at Los Alamitos Army Airfield under an FAA Experimental permit for tail number N3115T. This was also the first-ever flight of two people in a battery-powered helicopter.

Rothblatt is an airplane and helicopter pilot with night-vision goggle (NVG) certification. She generally pilots a Pilatus PC-12NG and a Bell 429WLG. Her other achievements in aviation include providing current weather information to all XM radio-equipped North American aircraft via her SiriusXM satellite system, and pioneering Aircraft Geolocation Tracking via her Geostar Satellite System. 

(L-R) United Therapeutics CEO Martine Rothblatt 

OC Helicopters Pilot Ric Webb
Tier 1 Engineering President Glen Dromgoole
United Therapeutics EVP Paul Mahon
before a flight test at Los Alamitos Army Airfield