Solar plane sets out on historic flight

A solar-powered plane has begun a 24hr historic test flight by flying through the night.

Updated: Jul 07, 2010, 14:53 PM IST

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 flight.

"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.

Bureau Report