In a brief article, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that a manned plane has flied on AA batteries in Japan yesterday. The plane, which has a 31 meter (102 feet) wingspan, was powered by 160 AA batteries. For its first flight, it "stayed in the air for 59 seconds and covered a distance of 391 meters." This flight might be selected by the Guinness Book of Records, but I doubt that this plane represents the future of aviation.
For its first flight, the plane was piloted by Tomohiro Kamiya, from the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Here is what he said after the flight.
"I was careful at take-off as it was very difficult," said Kamiya. [...] "As it soared five meters, people on the ground looked so small to me," he added. "I did not expect it to take off so beautifully. I realised again how poweful it could be."
And below is a picture of the students celebrating the first flight of this battery-powered plane (Credit: Mumbai Mirror, India).
The Mumbai Mirror adds that the students "are hoping to have the flight recognised as a record by the Japan Aeronautic Association."
In another brief article, Zee News, India, tells us more about the project history.
The [Tokyo Institute of Technology,] known for its experiments with human-powered planes, and the giant electronics firm launched a joint project to develop the battery-powered plane in January, said Matsushita spokesman Kazuhiko Zushi.
In April the joint team completed the plane and succeeded in rolling and taxiing the aircraft in its first test flight.
Finally, the MSN-Mainichi Daily News, Japan, tells us that the plane did a second flight of 269 meters, powered by only 96 AA batteries. It adds that "the plane will be on display at JR Tokyo Station from July 31 to August 6." So, if you happen to be in Tokyo at this time, don't miss it -- and send me more pictures.
Sources: AFP, via The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, July 17, 2006; and various web sites
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