Swiss-made solar plane makes maiden flight

Swiss-made solar plane makes maiden flight

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

German test pilot Markus Scherdel lands the new experimental aircraft "Solar Impulse 2", after its first flight at the airbase in Payerne, Switzerland, on June 2, 2014. The aircraft, which was unveiled April 9, 2014 weighs 2.4 tons with a wingspan of 72 meters and more than 17,000 solar cells. The attempt to fly around the world in stages using only solar energy will be made in 2015. AFP PHOTO / POOL / LAURENT GILLIERON

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Associated Press

Posted on June 2, 2014 at 6:03 AM

Updated Monday, Jun 2 at 2:56 PM

BERLIN (AP) — A Swiss-made solar-powered aircraft has made a successful inaugural flight as its makers prepare for what they hope will be the first round-the-world solar flight.

The Solar Impulse 2 team said the aircraft spent 2 hours and 17 minutes in the air above western Switzerland early Monday. They plan several other flights over the coming months.

The Solar Impulse 2 is a bigger and better version of a single-seat prototype that first took flight five years ago. Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, the project's founders, say it theoretically can stay airborne indefinitely.

The plane soaks up energy from the sun through some 17,200 solar cells that cover its massive wings, which span 72 meters (236 feet).

Piccard and Borschberg hope to fly the aircraft around the world next year.

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