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Innovation

Solar-powered airplane sets record for longest, highest flight

A pilot succeeded in flying a solar-powered airplane for more than 24 hours, setting a new record and paving the way for its ultimate mission to circumnavigate the globe by 2012.
Written by Deborah Gage, Contributor

A pilot succeeded in flying a solar-powered airplane for more than 24 hours, setting a new record and paving the way for its ultimate mission to circumnavigate the globe by 2012.

The Solar Impulse plane -- a four-engine, carbon fiber plane with a wing-span of more than 200 feet -- flew over Switzerland for a little more than 26 hours, landing at the airfield where it took off.

The feat was the longest and highest flight by a solar-powered aircraft to date.

The plane reached a height of just over 28,000 feet and a speed of 78 miles per hour. Its average speed was 25 miles per hour.

Below is a gorgeous video from Russia Today that shows the plane flying (you get a bird's eye view from the cockpit) and landing -- a gentle glide.

Pilot Andre Borschberg said his back got a little sore and the night part of the flight was cold -- the temperature dropped to minus 20 degrees Celsius, which made his drinking water freeze and his iPod batteries die.

Still, he told the New York Times, "this flight has been the most incredible one of my flying career."

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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