Solar plane sets out on historic flight

An experimental solar-powered aircraft took off from a Swiss airbase.

Payerne: An experimental solar-powered aircraft took off from a Swiss airbase here in a bid to make history by flying round the clock and through the night.

Solar Impulse whirred along the runway at Payerne in
western Switzerland in the early hours of Wednesday, reaching
35 kilometres per hour as lone pilot Andre Borschberg gently
lifted into clear skies at 0451 GMT on a scheduled 25 hour

"This should be a great day of all goes well," said team
chief Bertrand Piccard, who made the first non-stop
round-the-world flight in a balloon more than a decade ago.

"It`s clear that this is something that is completely
different at least for aviation, but it`s also something
completely different to what has existed in our society," he
added moments before take-off.

"The goal is to take to the air with no fuel. The goal is
to show that we can be much more independent from fossil
energy than people usually think."

The ground control crew were due to decide about 13 hours
later, shortly before dusk, whether Borschberg should press on
through darkness.

The go-ahead will depend on the sun`s ability to charge
up Solar Impulse`s batteries in the daytime and the threat of
strong high altitude winds, joint flight control chief and
former astronaut Claude Nicollier said.


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