Thursday, June 13, 2013

[530] MTSU ‘Out of the Blue’ documents Ricketts’ historic no-gas trip


MURFREESBORO — The June edition of MTSU’s monthly television program, “Out of the Blue,” offers a passenger-seat view of the historic coast-to-coast trip this spring conducted by professor Cliff Ricketts, MTSU’s “Davy Crockett of science.”

“Sun and Water: Driving Coast-to-Coast on Nature’s Energy” will air for the first time at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, June 9, on NewsChannel 5+ (Comcast cable channel 250). The show also airs on other Middle Tennessee cable outlets, so check local listings.

Watch the new “Out of the Blue” anytime on by clicking on the “Out of the Blue” tab, or watch it on Murfreesboro cable Channel 9 Monday through Sunday at 7 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. and on NewsChannel5+ Sundays at 1:30 p.m. It also can be viewed on.

In the 30-minute mini-documentary, video journalist Mike Browning of MTSU’s marketing team chronicles Ricketts’ five-day, 2,600-mile odyssey of driving across the U.S. without gasoline in March.

“This is awesome. Mike did a tremendous job,” Ricketts said. “Mike totally captured it all, from the sunrise at Tybee Island (Ga.) to the sunsets at the Pacific, and I like how it showed scenes of Americana along the way.

“This fully explained the scientific, environmental, political and economic implications why the research is important.”

Powered exclusively by hydrogen made from sun and water manufactured on the MTSU campus, Ricketts made headlines nationwide when he and his team successfully drove a modified Toyota Prius and 1994 Toyota Tercel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. University cameras documented every step of the way.

Ricketts, a veteran School of Agribusiness and Agriscience faculty member and an alternative fuels researcher, has long had a dream that one day people will drive their vehicles using only the natural energies of sun and water. He and his students have performed 25 years of research to determine how to make that dream a reality.

Time and again along the cross-country journey, Ricketts stopped for media interviews, telling reporter after reporter about his expedition, and about the technology.

Writer and producer Browning spent countless hours in the making of a 60-minute documentary, which has been trimmed to meet the 30-minute requirement for the television airing. Jon Jackson with MTSU Audio-Visual Services served as chief editor.

Browning filmed the entire journey, transcribed hours of video, wrote the script and performed voiceovers in the video.

“So much detail goes in behind it,” said Browning, who experienced a 25-year career as a TV journalist before working for the state of Tennessee, first in media relations and now as a video producer and editor at MTSU. Browning covered Ricketts while working for WKRN-TV in Nashville.

“I found him (Ricketts) to be innovative,” Browning said. “I had the privilege of seeing it come to fruition. I was fortunate to be a part of a historic trip.”

Check the “Out of the Blue” archives, at

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