schwit1 writes: "The solar-powered experimental airplane Solar Impulse 2 made its maiden flight on Monday. 'The solar-powered aircraft took off at 5:36 AM CET, when the weather around the aerodrome was at its calmest, with pilot Markus Scherdel at the controls. The aircraft flew for two hours and 17 minutes, reaching an altitude of 1,670 m (5,500 ft) and a ground speed of 55.6 km/h (30 kt). According to Solar Impulse, the in-flight data indicates that the aircraft slated to make the first all-solar global circumnavigation flight performed to expectations.' The goal is to use this plane to fly around the world in 2015. Videos of the takeoff and landing are available, as are a series of pictures. The plane gets off the ground very quickly, does not move very fast, and is balanced precariously on a single set of wheels in the center. If you look closely before takeoff, there are two guys literally holding the wings up at each end to balance it. They have to run with the plane for the first few seconds until it gets enough lift to balance on its own. The landing video shows both bicyclists and men racing to meet up with the wings to hold them up once the plane stops."
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