At the March meeting of Ely Inner Wheel, the guest speaker was Stuart Simpson, chief financial officer of Vertical Aerospace Limited.

The company are pioneers in the development of a new type of electrical aircraft, known as EVTOL (electrical vertical take off and landing).

They are designed to replace helicopters, having several advantages.

Being electric, the planes are far quieter than helicopters. The planes have two wings. Each wing has four propellers attached which are connected to the power by an electric cable.

This simple mechanism is much easier and cheaper to maintain with far fewer parts than a helicopter.

The running cost is only £500 pounds per hour compared with £4,000 per hour for the helicopter.

The plane can also keep flying if any of the propellers break. The design is very stable and safe. 

Thanks to recent developments in fast-charging batteries, small aircraft can now be powered by electricity.

Stuart likened these vehicles to the electric flying cars of 60s cartoons.

They have a small cabin which can take four passengers and a pilot who is mostly redundant as they are flown using the same automatic pilot software used in military aircraft.

Stuart took several questions and reassured members and guests that the batteries are far more stable and protected than the ones in electric cars, which have recently become notorious for their repair costs.

His company's EVTOL plane VX4 will be displayed at Farnborough Air Show later this year.

President Pauline Lancaster thanked Stuart for his fascinating talk which gave members a look into the not too distant future.

The Inner Wheel organisation celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, having been set up as a ladies organisation back in 1924 when ladies were not permitted to join the male-only Rotary club. 

Inner Wheel is now present in 104 countries. Ely Inner Wheel will be running a stall at the market on Saturday May 4, if anyone is interested in more information.