Solar Plane Takes to The Skies

The first ever solar plane has took the sky on Wednesday with the wing span of a jumbo jet and the weight or a family car.

Test pilot of the "Solar Impulse," Markus Scherdel flew the aircraft between two Swedish airfields earlier this week while designer Bertrand Piccard and his team, nervously looked on.

The main challenge for the design of the plane was to allow it to store enough sunlight energy during the day to allow it to fly at night.

"It is essential for the pilot to approach each night with full batteries and economise available energy to the maximum, to be able to stay in the air until the next sunrise," the planes designers stated.

"Therefore, the greatest challenge, before the round-the-world trip, will be the first complete night flight.

"For the solar panels, the day begins late and finishes early: one will only be able to count on about eight hours of usable light per day.

"Indeed, the lower the sun is on the horizon, the less efficient are its rays."

The maiden voyage for the aircraft has been long awaited and was invaluable to the pilot and design team alike. The test pilot, Mr Scherdel was able to finally see how the plane would manoeuvre and handle.

"This first flight was for me a very intense moment," he said. "It behaved just as the flight simulator told us. Despite its immense size and feather weight, the aircraft's controllability matches our expectations."

Piccard, the designer added: "We still have a long way to go until the night flights and an even longer way before flying round the world, but today, thanks to the extraordinary work of an entire team, an essential step towards achieving our vision has been taken.

"Our future depends on our ability to convert rapidly to the use of renewable energies.

"Solar Impulse is intended to demonstrate what can be done already today by using these energies and applying new technologies that can save natural resources."

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