Successful Solar-Powered Aircraft Flight Over the Alps

Though it didn’t receive much coverage in the mainstream press, the recent flight of the Sunseeker II solar-powered aircraft across the Alps in April showed that the technology for such flight is advancing rapidly. The motor-glider sporting solar cells on the wings and horizontal stabilizer was piloted by one of the pioneers of solar-powered flight, Eric Raymond. I wrote a blog entry last year about electric aircraft, including the work of  Raymond and his early solar flight achievements with Sunseeker I way back in 1991. It was good to see Raymond finally receive some mainstream media (MSM) coverage in a recent New York Times article.  As impressive as the aerospace/solar technology integration engineering that Raymond is doing, his web site about the European flights of Sunseeker II is equally impressive. The site features some spectacular photos and video of Raymond piloting Sunseeker II over the Alps. With the automotive industry spending millions to develop electric cars, I think you are going to see the development of lighter, more powerful and less costly battery technology, some of which can be applied to light aircraft. Thanks to pioneers like Raymond, electric flight may become practical sooner than later.

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