During the day, the solar plane climbs to between 27,000 and 28,000 feet. When the sun goes down, the propellers throttle back to save energy, and the plane slowly descends to about 4,500 feet. It remains at that altitude until the sun comes up and the batteries begin to recharge. Team meteorologists use simulations to determine the best time during the day to climb, taking into account projected winds and cloud cover.
Stephen Cass is a Boston-based technology journalist who frequently covers aerospace and computing.
This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Popular Science. See the rest of the magazine here.
The Piccards. Now there's a PopSci dynasty. I am curious though; because this isn't at all like the ballooning achievements, because that was actual high technology in that day. This is not. Difficult feat-yes, high tech-no. We won't see common personal aircraft of this size or anything close. Too fragile. Full hangar expense to park indoors in winter. Nor is solar as robust as need be for general aviation. Can't really power out of an emergency. I imagine this is more aimed at the sailplane crowd. Civil Air Patrol does use them for flight training and firewatch and the like.
Where is the bathroom!
Ok. Now try that with a B747. Then I'll applaude.