We've seen solar cars being invented, solar powered parking lots and even miniaturized solar powered pieces of art and now we are about to witness the maiden flight of the world’s first solar powered airplane. Bertrand Piccard, the Swiss psychiatrist and balloonist, has been dedicating most of his time and indeed life in perfecting the first plane to be able to fly solely by using the energy generated to it by its solar panels. The solar panels have been placed all along the large wings of the aircraft in order to capture all the rays of the sun and convert them into energy to be stored in a battery. During the night the battery power allows the plane to continue to fly and then once the sun rises the next day the battery begins to get charged up all over again. The wing span of this aircraft is 45 feet (as much as of the largest jumbos) which is necessary to host the large amount of solar panels, although the total weight of the plane is that of a small car.
When Mr. Piccard signed up with Solar Impulse Foundation in 2003 they announced that between the two of them working on this project they were hoping to bring out a working solar powered airplane in the very near future.
Well this revolutionary airplane has at last been perfected and after a successful test flight it is planned that it will soon spend about 20-25 days of flight time travelling across the world.
This aircraft works and the implications of it are just fantastic in that we would no longer have to use up the valuable and fast ending fuel resources in order to fly planes but instead just use our natural resource which is our sun that is nearly always beaming down its rays on us.
A company called The Odysseushas have already perfected the solar energy technology and have designed and developed a surveillance plane which has the capability of being in flight for five straight years and solely taking its energy from solar rays.
Piccard's grandfather, who also spent most of his life inventing new technology, came up with the first pressurized cabin. It is also interesting to note that the character of Star Trek, Captain Piccard, was in fact based on Bertrand Piccard himself.
During the first week of June of this year another test flight was performed successfully keeping the aircraft up in the air for over 24 hours and the only major problem was trying to keep the pilot awake!