COSTA MESA — Never underestimate the speed of light — or the properties of grass and vegetables.
A biofuel made from sorghum and sugar beets helped propel Orange Coast College aviation instructor Richard "Smokey" Young, 50, of Chino Hills, to a new world record, where he was clocked at more than 260 mph in a piston-fired aircraft at the Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Thermal, southeast of Palm Springs, over the weekend.
"I think it was really neat getting the opportunity to do this," Young said. "This fuel was fantastic. It worked great."
It took place inside Young's Formula 1 Race plane. The high-octane biofuel is relatively new on the market and is being developed by Indiana-based Swift Enterprises in partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. It's called 100SF fuel; it contains no lead or ethanol.
Normally, general aviation aircraft piston engines run on fuel referred to as 100LL.
While lead was removed from auto gasoline decades ago, a small amount of the metal has remained in the fuel supply for aviation piston engines, sometimes causing "vapor lock," which is when an engine stalls in mid-air.