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Thursday, 08 July 2010 23:01

Aircraft uses stored sunlight to fly all night


The Switzerland-based Solar Impulse group flew its HB-SIA solar-powered aircraft for 26 hours, using solar cells to collect sunlight during the day and sunlight-powered batteries at night. It is now the longest and highest manned solar flight.



The Solar Impulse project is led by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard and Swiss pilot André Borschberg, and is sponsored by Deutsche Bank AG.

The experimental solar-powered aircraft uses 12,000 very efficient solar cells, located on its wings, to collect sunlight, which is used either directly to power the craft during the day or stored in lithium batteries, located within four gondolas beneath the wings, and used indirectly at night.

The historic event occurred at Payerne, which is near Lake Neuchatrel in Switzerland. Payerne is located about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the Bern, Switzerland.

The four-engine plane landed at Payerne airport after a total flight time of 26 hours.

The flight started at 6:51 a.m. local time (Central European Summer Time), 0451 GMT, from an airfield in Payerne, Switzerland, on Wednesday morning (July 7).

It ended at the same airport at about 9:00 a.m. CEST (0700 GMT) on Thursday morning (July 8).

Page two continues with more information about the airplane flight that did not pollute the environment.



The aircraft averaged 26 miles per hour (23 knots) during its 26-hour flight.

It reached a maximum altitude of about 28,543 feet (8,700 meters). The pilot maneuvered the aircraft around the Jura Mountains in Switzerland.

The flight is considered to have set the record for longest manned solar flight, along with the highest trip by a solar-powered craft.

According to the July 8, 2010 Business Week article 'Solar-Powered Aircraft Lands After Overnight Flight,' Borschberg, who piloted the plane, stated after landing the craft, that the flight was 'the most incredible one of my flying career, just sitting there and watching the battery charge level rise and rise thanks to the sun and then that suspense, not knowing whether we were going to manage to stay up in the air the whole night.'

Borschberg added, 'I have just flown more than 26 hours without using a drop of fuel and without causing any pollution!'

The next flight for the experimental craft will be to fly cross the Atlantic Ocean.

After successfully accomplishing that goal, a second slightly larger craft (HB-SIB) will be sent for a 20-to-25-day trip around the world, which is scheduled sometime in 2013.

Page three concludes with a YouTube video and Life magazine slideshow of the project.


Check out the Solar Impulse website for additional information on the project.

Also, learn more about the Solar Impluse project at the Life magazine website 'Solar Impulse: The Endless Flight' and the YouTube video 'Solar Plane Cruises to
Historic Flight

The Life article states its an "endless" flight. In theory, the aircraft could stay up in the air forever because it receives all of its energy from the Sun, using it directly during the day, while storing some of it in batteries for indirect use at night.

Also, take a look at the BBC article 'Solar-powered plane lands safely after 26-hour flight.'




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