Solar plane lands after first night flight (Lead, changing dateline)

July 8th, 2010 - 2:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Geneva, July 8 (DPA) A solar-powered plane landed Thursday morning in western Switzerland after staying in the air for 26 hours straight and successfully completing its first night flight.
The plane, part of the project Solar Impulse run by Swiss entrepreneur Bertrand Piccard, gathered enough solar energy at high altitudes during the daylight hours of the first half of the flight to power it through the night, according to the news agency SDA.

To enable the world’s first solar-powered all-night trip, the pilot took the the light aircraft - with its expansive wingspan of 63.4 metres covered with solar panels - to 8,500 metres Wednesday and stored the sun’s rays before descending to 1,500 metres for the night.

The pilot landed at the same airfield he used for takeoff near Payerne, in western Switzerland.

In April, the plane successfully completed its first daytime test flight.

By 2013, Piccard hopes his Solar Impulse will make it around the world and introduce an environmentally friendly form of air travel.

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