It’s a bird, it’s a plane… wait, it’s hemp!!
Hemp, the famous cousin of cannabis, has proven to be a natural and earth-friendly alternative to many of our common problems today. The non-psychoactive variety of cannabis has been used since ancient times for several industrial purposes and today continues to prove its efficacy in numerous industries, the latest of which is aviation.
Yes, you heard that right.
Derek Kesey, CEO of Hempearth Group Ltd is working to create the world’s first airplane made out of 75% hemp. The hemp plane is slated to take to the skies for the first time later this year, no less than from Kitty Hawk in North Carolina which is also the same place where the Wright Brothers had the take-off that changed the face of aviation as we know it today.
Kesek and his team used plastic and hemp and plant-based composites to replace fiberglass to construct a 4-seater plane that is much more environmentally-friendly than current airplane models. If aviation authorities approve the hemp-based bio-fuel that Kesek is also developing, then Hempearth has pretty much solved the pollution problems caused by airplanes.
Kesek was a former organic-restaurant owner based in Ontario, and also has a background in music and internet marketing. In 2012, he founded Hempearth with the purpose of developing hemp-based products that can benefit the masses. He names Elon Musk and Richard Branson as his influences for his decision to experiment with hemp use.
Aside from being more environmentally-friendly, hemp is 10 times more durable than fiberglass, it’s a flame retardant, and it’s much lighter too. It’s also considered to be the most bio-diverse crop with around 25,000 uses known to man, from rope to soap.
“There are many advantages to using hemp,” Kesek tells Outside Online. “This plane project is just our first experiment with industrial hemp, and we plan to explore many uses. Once we establish structural testing and information from the hemp project, we will take that and work on the next best implication. The sky may not be the limit.”
Last fall, Kesek partnered with Velocity Inc., an American small-plane manufacturer who will be helping him build his plane. He’ll be using their designs but the building components will be made from hemp and resin panels instead of fiberglass. He’s also started a crowdfunding campaign to help him get the funds needed to get the plane off the ground.
Projects In Costa Rica
Kesek has also been working on developing hemp-based bio-fuel for the plane, which is sourced from Canada which has already been at the forefront of hemp production for several years now. He had hemp seed oils shipped to Costa Rica, where he works with a chemist who has his own processing plant outside San Jose to make the fuel.
In an interview with Tico Times, Kesek also says that he has other projects in Costa Rica particularly developing hemp surfboards. He also found professional surfboards who are going to use his boards, then he plans to distribute them there. Aside from being the ideal industry for hemp surfboards, Costa Rica also has the ideal growing environment for hemp.
In Costa Rica, cannabis is almost legal, although there are still some hazy things that need to be ironed out by congress. The Law for the Investigation, Regulation, and Control for Cannabis and Hemp for Medicinal, Food, and Industrial Use seems to have the legislature’s support but all they need is the approval from Congress. The law has had increasing support over the past years, and once approved it would legalize the use of medicinal cannabis as well as hemp.