Solar powered airplane? Why not? The company called Solar Flight revealed that it has been test flying a new solar powered airplane: Sunseeker Duo. "The Duo is the most advanced solar powered airplane in the world and the first that might be suited to production. It is also the first solar powered airplane with a passenger seat. The project is led by husband and wife; Eric and Irena Raymond. The Duo is Solar Flight’s third solar powered airplane", the manufacturer explains.
This first flight was conducted at Solar Flight’s test facility in Voghera, Italy by Eric Raymond on the anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk. Solar Flight’s mission is to lead the way for the future of sport aviation using the most advanced technologies in the world. Irena says, “We are working very hard to have the airplane tested and ready for passenger flights by this summer. No sight is more captivating than Earth from above. It will be even more beautiful from the cockpit of a solar powered airplane.”
Experts pint out that the engineering challenges to build solar powered airplanes are formidable. The structure must be incredibly light and aerodynamically efficient to perform well with only the power from integrated solar arrays. Because of the demanding requirements, solar powered airplanes have mostly been built as engineering novelties to break records or win prizes, rather than with the intent for practical use. The great triumph of the Sunseeker series is to integrate the huge number of conflicting design challenges into high performance, practical sport airplanes.
The aviation innovator Eric Raymond, who has spent his entire life building and flying airplanes, makes it look deceptively easy. There are three airplanes in the Sunseeker family. Sunseeker I first flew in 1989 and during the summer of 1990 it became the first solar powered airplane to cross the United States. A long series of modifications resulted in a new airplane, Sunseeker II, which was completed in 2006. In 2009, again with the airplane’s designer Eric Raymond in the cockpit, Sunseeker II made a tour of the European continent that included the first solar powered crossing of the Alps.
"The original airplane has logged more time than the combination of all other solar powered airplanes. Sunseeker Duo is the most advanced airplane to date. It uses all of the lessons learned during 25 years with the original Sunseeker and implements new materials and new technologies", the developers told the media.