The first successful flight of an aircraft powered by the sun was completed in Switzerland yesterday as the Solar Impulse HB-SIA took off and landed safely. Solar Impulse founder Bertrand Piccard had dreamed of the day his plane would take flight for a decade.
With a good weather window on Thursday, test pilot Markus Scherdel was given the go ahead to take the spindly aircraft to up to take-off speed shortly after one o’clock local time. With the airplane lined up on the runway, Scherdel powered up the four motors using the on-board batteries and HB-SIA gained speed until he was able to lift off the pavement.
In a flight very reminiscent of the Wright Brothers first flight in 1903, Scherdel flew 350 meters down the runway at an altitude of only one meter in a flight lasting 28 seconds.
The team hopes to achieve a 36-hour flight by next summer. Link to story. Link to website. -via the Presurfer