SolarStratos Makes First Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

SolarStratos, a feather-light 450 kilogram (990 pound), solar-powered airplane, lifted off for the first time on May 5 in Payerne, Switzerland.  Considering its 24.9 meter (81.69 feet) wingspan, the airplane shows designer Calin Gologan’s ability to squeeze performance from every gram of structure.  It flies nicely, too, with test pilot Damian Hischier enthusing, “The plane is very nice to [fly].  [Its] reactions are healthy, and we see that it was well designed.” Sharing Payerne Airport with Solar Impulse, SolarStratos represents a different kind of adventure, ready to make five-hour flights to 75,000 feet (two hours up, five hours down).  Such flights can carry a pilot and scientific measuring equipment, or for those lucky enough to have the price of admission, …

Reaching for the Sun

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

SolarStratos, a two-seat, solar-powered airplane, is being readied for record flights in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland, just a 25-minute drive from the Solar Impulse hangars in Payerne. Its makers claim that it is the first commercial solar two-seater aircraft in history, and will be the first solar-powered airplane with a pilot to enter the stratosphere.  These heady claims are described on the project’s web site as a “crazy bet,” but it’s too early to make such judgments.  Calin Gologan of PC-Aero GmbH designed the base craft, an expansion of his earlier ultralight electric aircraft, Elektra Two.  The “Record” version of this craft, despite SolarStratos’ extended 20-meter (65 feet, 7 inch) wingspan, weighs a feathery 140 kilograms (308 pounds) empty, and only 350 …