Piloted solar plane unveiled

Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard has unveiled a prototype of the solar-powered plane he hopes eventually to fly around the world.

The vehicle, spanning 61m but weighing just 1,500kg, will undergo trials to prove it can fly through the night.

The width of a jet airliner, but the weight of a family car, it is possibly the lightest plane (weight-for-size) ever to fly.

When trials have finished - including a transatlantic flight planned for 2012 - the single-seat plane (designated "HB-SIA") should be able to circumnavigate the globe non-stop. Unfortunately, the pilot won't - at 20-25 knots, the flight should take three weeks, too long for a human to go without sleep. Instead, the flight is planned in five-day "hops", each ending with a change in pilot.

Solar Impulse website
BBC Story with video

Picture of Piloted solar plane unveiled
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ANDY!7 years ago
if someone gave me a lot of money, i can probably make one.
ANDY!8 years ago
I wish I had one of those!
aeromancy ANDY!8 years ago
Me too!
ANDY! aeromancy8 years ago
don't you think 1500kg is pretty heavy though?
Dr.Bill ANDY!7 years ago
This is a big plane. The govt., has one that can fly for indefinate amounts of time using solar panels and reghargable batteries.

So why do you need the pilot to stay awake with auto pilot? or maybe a second pilot? or a third?

We had one first. I saw it in Hawai'i back in 1999....ours was unmanned radio controled with camera. Flew really great and made front page news in Honolulu Advertiser.

Which government?  U.S.?  U.K.?  Mars? 

What "we" are you talking about?  Were you on the build team for the Solar Challenger, which was built in 1981 (which, by the way, was 18 years before 1999)?
Sorry. U.S.A. N.A.S.A. I think. maybe U.S.A.F. its been a while since i've seen it close up in person.
Dr.Bill Dr.Bill7 years ago
No. Not Challenger. The one I saw was way more advanced and way bigger.
fwjs288 years ago
of course it was the sweeds, they make all the cool stuff
Goodhart fwjs288 years ago
What are sweeds? Sweet weeds? or do you mean the Swedes?
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