December 4, 2009
Solar Powered Aircraft Takes Flight
An aircraft dubbed 'Solar Impulse', HB-SIA prototype, took to the air for the first time with test pilot Markus Scherdel on board in Duebendorf airport near Zurich on Thursday.
Co-founders Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg said the high tech single-seater made a controlled 400 meter flight about a meter above the runway.
Borschberg told AFP, "A plane like that never flown before and it's extraordinary... because it's an area of flight that has been unexplored until now."
"It was very important to see if it would rise and what way we could keep it stable," he added.
Despite it's 63.40 meter wingspan, the aircraft only weighs about as much as medium-sized car.
Although the aircraft is to be ran on solar power, the four electric motors were powered by batteries for the occasion.
The prototype, which is slightly smaller than the craft that is expected to fly around the world, is primarily aimed at testing the cutting edge technology used to build and control the aircraft, and to fly through the night.
A 36 hour non-stop flight through darkness is scheduled in Switzerland for spring of 2010.
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