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Solar plane flies for 24 hours
Wednesday July 7, 2010 - Email this article to a friend

The Swiss built plane has completed the longest and highest flight of a solar powered plane and it is being seen as a major success. PlanetSKI reports from Switzerland.

The  Solar Impulse plane took off shortly before 7am on Wednesday from Payerne airfield in Western Switzerland and flew over the Alps.

It was perfect weather for the flight here in Switzerland with blue sky, little wind and a good forecast.

Early on Thursday morning the plane landed and the test team pronounced it a huge success.

"When we took off it was another era. We land in a new era where people understand that with renewable energy weu can do impossible things," said the project co-founder, Bertrand Picard.

The plane had been in the air for 26 hours and still had 3 hours worht of power left in the batteries.

Caught the Swiss public interestCaught the Swiss public interestThe test flight has been followed closely by the Swiss and international media.

The aircraft has 4 engines and was flown by Andre Borschberg, a former fighter jet pilot.

"The deal is done, we've won, we've won!" said an enthusiastic member of the team as the plane landed.

"HB-SIA and pilot André Boschberg are back from the night skies. It took a lot of persuading to keep the Solar Impulse staff, media people and fascinated citizens from rushing the airplane here at the Payerne airfield. The plane is now being secured."

The first night flight should have taken place last week but was postponed because of a technical problem.

During the day on Wednesday it captured enough power from its 12,000 solar cells spread over the aircraft to keep it flying though the hours of darkness.

They are spread over the wing-span of the aircraft.

It reached a height of 27,900ft.

80 different companies have been involved in the project.

Perfect conditions for a Swiss solar powered flightPerfect overhead for a Swiss solar powered flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here on PlanetSKI we reported on the 24-hour test flight on Wednesday in this story and also wrote about the project a year ago.

The plane has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 but weighs about the same as a family saloon car.

It has been designed to have as little weight as possible.

Looks good on the drawing boardLooks good on the drawing board

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However whether it can ever be a commercial success and realistic option for general flying is very much open to question.

However think how the Wright Brothers and the first flights were viewed at the time.

Now think what they led to.

The next trial for Solar Impulse is a 36-hour non-stop flight later this summer. 

We'll let you know how it goes.

For more infomration see the Solar Impulse web site.

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