Prototype of Solar Powered Plane Records First Successful "Flight"
The Solar Impulse, a prototype of the plane which runs on solar power, recorded its first successful flight, more like a "flea hop", as the project leaders are referring to it. The plane is a part of a planned "solar-powered circumnavigation of the globe", and Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, pilot of the first hot-air balloon to fly nonstop around the world, is very excited about the development.
The "maiden flight" went on for a mere 350 meters and rose to a height of just 1 meter, but it was enough to give developers a lot of hope for the future, and experts have been quick to applaud the effort.
"It was absolutely great to see this plane in the air. It's a completely new flight domain. There has never been an airplane so big and so light flying with so little energy", said Mr. Piccard.
The next flight will be undertaken at the Payerne air force airfield in western Switzerland, and developers are hoping that the plane will then reach a height of about 9,000 meters, using on-board solar powered batteries.
Solar Impulse's final version will, before undertaking an around-the-world journey, attempt a transatlantic flight in 2012.