SolarStratos plane flies for the first time – but not quite to the stratosphere
It was in November of 2016 that we first heard about SolarStratos, a 2-seater solar-electric aircraft that's ultimately intended to fly to an altitude of 25,000 m (82,000 ft) – the edge of space, essentially. The plane was unveiled to the public last December, and made its first flight this Friday.
The flight took place in the team's home country of Switzerland, at the Payerne airport. Flown by test pilot Damian Hischier, the aircraft took off at 8am and proceeded to fly for seven minutes at an altitude of 300 metres (984 ft) before landing and returning to its hangar. Raphael Domjan, who will pilot the plane on its stratospheric mission, looked on from the runway throughout.
"The plane is very nice to fly," Hischier said afterwards. "It is responsive and it is obvious that it has been very well designed and built."