Sun-powered plane waits for better weather to continue trip

May 30, 2012
The Swiss sun-powered aircraft Solar Impulse prepares for takeoff on May 24. The plane is waiting for weather conditions to improve before continuing on its first transcontinental flight, organisers said Wednesday.

The Swiss sun-powered aircraft Solar Impulse is waiting for weather conditions to improve before continuing on its first transcontinental flight, organisers said Wednesday.

The experimental plane, which is not designed to fly into clouds, landed in Madrid on Friday from its home base in Payerne in Switzerland at the end of the first leg of its attempt to reach Morocco without using a drop of fuel.

After technical checks and a pilot change it was hoped would leave for Rabat on Monday but its departure was put off due to strong winds.

"At present, we are waiting for a forecast window on the Madrid-Rabat leg. For sure we know that it won't be until Monday," project spokeswoman Charlotte Pichon told AFP.

If successful the 2,500-kilometre (1,550-mile) journey will be the longest to date for the aircraft after a flight to Paris and Brussels last year and it will mark the first time that the plane has left Europe.

The trip is intended as a rehearsal in the run-up to the plane's round-the-world flight planned for 2014.

The high-tech aircraft, which has the wingspan of a large airliner but weighs no more than a saloon car, is fitted with 12,000 feeding four electric motors driving propellors.

Explore further: Swiss pilot to undergo 3-day solar flight simulation

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1 / 5 (2) May 30, 2012
the wind was too strong, the sun didn't shine, it started to rain, the dog ate my paper.
not rated yet May 31, 2012
Hmm. why build rigid frame for a solar plane ?

Wouldn't a lighter than air blimp inflated with helium be the perfect match for solar ? You can put a lot of solar cells on the top of the inflated section , and unlike this model it wont crash to earth if the weather is cloudy.

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