We were thrilled to learn last month that the Solar Impulse, a solar-powered plane that will take a 20 to 25 day trip around the world, made its first successful test down the runway. And now we’re even more excited to report that the plane completed its first flight in Switzerland just yesterday.
The short “flea hop” flight over the Dubendorf Airfield runway may not have looked like much — it lasted for just 350 meters at an altitude of one meter — but it’s a big deal to the Solar Impulse team. According to Solar Impulse founder Bertrand Piccard, “It might just look like a plane doing a flea hop, but in reality it is the entry into a totally new and uncharted domain of flight. Never before – in the whole history of aviation – has an aircraft so big, so light and consuming so little energy actually flown.”
Still, there’s plenty of work left before Solar Impulse can make its around-the-world journey. The team plans to try even longer flights leading up to a 36-hour flight next summer. All flights beginning next year will run solely on solar power and batteries.