Solar-powered commercial flight may be a long way off, but the Sunseeker Duo—a solar-powered two-person plane built by Solar Flight, Inc—might bring us a little closer. Until now, solar planes have only been able to carry one person, but as its name would suggest the Sunseeker Duo is intended to accommodate two passengers without sacrificing performance. If Solar Flight, Inc succeeds, their two-seater solar plane will be a world first, and the plane’s creators are looking for support in their endeavor through Kickstarter.
In order to fit all of the necessary solar panels, the plane requires a wingspan that reaches nearly 80 feet, all while weighing less than 600 pounds. But even though the plane is light, it can easily accommodate two full-grown men. Based on the original Sunseeker model, which was completed in 1990, the plane is capable of intercontinental flight. When the flight is over, the long wings fold so that the plane can be stored in an average-sized hangar.
The plane is equipped with a battery that can hold a long enough charge to allow the plane to climb for 20 minutes. But what happens if they sky is cloudy? No problem, says Eric Raymond, one of the creators, “If I can get over the clouds in that time, then I am in bright sunshine, so I can continue to fly for hours. Otherwise I come slowly gliding back down. I always land as a glider anyway.”
The Sunseeker Duo is still in production and is seeking funding via Kickstarter to help complete the electronics and hardware. Once it is complete, the creators intend to fly it around the world by following the sun and documenting the journey through a film and a book in order to help raise awareness.