It's a lever that Cheney thinks could deliver untold amounts of truly renewable power on a level windmills can't touch — while not doubling as an open-air abattoir for birds and bats as windmills do. At long last, Mike Cheney feels he can lift the world.


When Mike Cheney was 16 years old, Lincoln High School science teacher Blair Oram's classroom was his refuge; it was a retreat from both a broken home and the persistent lunchtime riots that broke out in the cafeteria. In 1969, Oram selected Cheney as one of just two students from California to attend the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation's 90th anniversary fete for the incandescent light bulb. "Mike had a brain that was always thinking of things to invent," recalls Oram. "I valued him."

It was a life-altering trip: The crème of the nation's high-school students were informed that the world's continued reckless and polluting energy consumption would doom us all, and, perhaps, the tipping point had come and gone ("End of the world shit, dude!"). It would fall on another generation — perhaps one of those 100 students and teachers — to solve this problem.

Cheney in a 1988 Examiner article titled "'Pit Bull' Hounds Muni Management."
SF Examiner/Katy Raddatz, 1988
Cheney in a 1988 Examiner article titled "'Pit Bull' Hounds Muni Management."
Mike Cheney hopes his wind energy device inaugurates "a new age of sail."
Photograph by Gil Riego Jr.
Mike Cheney hopes his wind energy device inaugurates "a new age of sail."

"I've got too much to do," affirms Cheney. "There isn't enough time in a lifetime to get done what I want to get done." But that 16-year-old is now 61. Immortality is a temporary condition; so if Oracle CEO and yachting billionaire Larry Ellison (whom Cheney refers to, respectfully, as "Mr. Ellison") wants to get involved with the device his America's Cup boats inspired, odds are he won't have to drive too hard a bargain. Dan Ficher, a fellow Muni mechanic and hydraulics maven Cheney has brought in as a partner, notes that "it'd be nice to get a little check. But we have jobs. We're not starving artists." Cheney is blunter. He doesn't give a damn about making any money.

"I have not applied for a foreign patent. I hope they steal it. I hope they build them all over China," he says. Domestically, he reveals, he's already thought of four easy ways to break his patent. "This doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the planet. To the people.

"Maybe it'll take 40 years — but I've started the discussion." He smiles. "The equation is on the blackboard."

And that's how this story ends, dude.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
2 comments
WOODPECKER
WOODPECKER

Cheney may be a maverick , but his way of not helping those mechanic"s after him to carry the flame of hopeĀ  does continue. Instead he took a couch deal and let all others to be \harassed and not follow the contract. The supervisors' are the ones that do not follow the contract that are fellow 1414 IAM union members.

CA_Graft
CA_Graft

Cheney is quite a remarkable person. It's unfortunate SF isn't a city that values improvement nor is CA a state that cares about how it's rotting. It's not until SF becomes a Detroit and CA becomes a MI that it matters - but by then everyone that can will have left. It's currently advantageous for the tech industry to be located in SF, but someday that may change - just like the car companies no longer felt it was needed to be in Detroit. But, nothing changes until rock bottom - until then people dislike "gentrification".

 
©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...