Solar Plane flies from Spain to Morocco, then into Morocco’s rugged Interior

The solar-powered Solar Impulse airplane built by a Swiss concern, having flown successfully from Madrid to Rabat, has just completed a flight over the Moroccan countryside that included having to get above the Atlas mountains:

This video on the earlier Europe-to-Africa passage shows the plane in flight:

I like flying, but am aware that the hydrocarbon version is deadly to the environment and probably unsustainable as petroleum prices will rise again once the world economy improves. The Solar Impulse is the future.

6 Responses

  1. Solar powered aircraft have been around for decades making flights of up to 3000Km and climbing over 50,000ft. They’re called sailplanes. Admittedly they usually use gasoline or diesel fuel via a winch, towplane or self launch engine for the first five minutes or so. Electric motors for self launch and solar power to charge the batteries already exist though as do electric winches.

  2. Well, it’s probably the future of aerial reconnaissance, because it can fly all day, charge its batteries, and maybe never have to come down at all. Which is not necessarily good news for folks worried about Big Brother. What this technology can’t do is lift a lot of human beings and move them around quickly. Ironically, the Pentagon and the airlines both feel they must have alternatives to petroleum-based fuel for their jets, and have tried to subsidize the biofuel industry by buying experimental algae-based fuels at a high cost for flight research. But the Republicans in the House Armed Services committee are trying to ban this practice so (the non Big Oil-owned part of) the biofuels industry will starve from lack of funding. Otherwise, that’s your best bet for the future of environmentally sound airline travel.

  3. That’s great, just as long as they don’t try to fly it to Syria.

    This would be a great technology for UAVs, since they need to be able to loiter over the target area for extended periods.

  4. I like flying too. I teach people to fly airplanes but fuel costs have gone to $6/gallon for aviation grade fuel and it’s getting hatder to find customers who can aford that in a floundering economy . There is a small company that has put batteries and an electrc motor driving the prop on a Cessna 172. They can keep two people in the air for an hour. One interesting potential is that electric driven propellers can continue to turn at very high altitudes without loss of power. Electric driven airplanes may be here sooner than we think. They don’t have to be solar powered but can use electricity produced by sustainable means elsewhere as batteries improve.

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