From a small passenger airplane that took off from Mather Airport on Thursday morning, a world record-breaking pilot surveyed the terrain, making plans to once again break the speed record for an electric airplane.
But this time, instead of zipping over the Mojave Desert, Chip Yates will attempt to break the record in view of an audience at the California Capital Airshow in October.
Yates, founder and CEO of Flight of the Century Inc., will truck his electric airplane to Mather Airport for the show, where he will attempt to fly it faster than 202 mph - his previous record speed. This time, he's aiming for 230 mph.
The pilot visited Sacramento on Thursday to speak with community leaders, meet with the air show's board of directors and plan the path he will take to break the record. He also spoke with area children about how math, science and engineering can lead to fun and adventure later in life.
He will bring that same message to the air show - the only one he will visit this year - where attendees can talk to Yates and check out his electric plane.
The plane's 500-pound battery pack is a significant upgrade from the 200-pound unit used in Yates' first record-breaking flight last year. That first battery came from Yates' electric motorcycle, and it was fried in the effort.
"We risked damaging the battery because we wanted to break the record," he said. "There were red lights on the dash saying the battery was low. We got to about 190 and decided to floor it and push through."
That flight ended in a deadstick landing, which means the plane lost propulsion power and glided to the ground. Yates said the plane has been taken apart and rebuilt with the new battery pack and motor engineered specifically to reach the goal speed.
Organizers estimate that the California Capital Airshow will be one of the top five air shows of the year, as other national events have suffered from budget cuts and the federal sequester.
"When so many shows were canceled across the nation, some headlining performers flocked here because they knew we'd be here," said Darcy Brewer, executive director at the California Capital Airshow.
The sequester has prevented the Navy's Blue Angels and the Air Force's Thunderbirds from performing at this and other shows across the country, Brewer said. Other national air shows have been hurt by a lack of funding.
"For us, it's actually been better because Fleet Week (in San Francisco) canceled its show," she said. "International groups that tour on those weekends started looking to Sacramento."
Yates called the sequester "tragic" and said he regretted the loss of inspiration for young people who sometimes follow science careers after watching the Thunderbirds fly.
As a flight enthusiast, he said he is most excited to watch the planned Berlin Airlift Tribute and the stunt pilots at the air show, and he looks forward to answering questions from young people.
"I want to help kids realize they're passionate about something," he said. "We need young engineers and scientists on the forefront."
Call The Bee's Morgan Searles, (916) 321-1102. Follow her in Twitter @morgansearles.