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Context of '1996: Solar-Powered Aircraft Flies over Germany'

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Paul MacCready builds the first solar-powered aircraft, which he calls the Solar Challenger. To prove its viability, he flies it from France to England across the English Channel. The aircraft is powered by over 16,000 solar cells mounted on its wings, which produce 3,000 watts of power. (US Department of Energy 2002 pdf file)

The world’s most advanced solar-powered airplane, the icare 2, flies over Germany. The aircraft was designed and constructed by a team from the University of Stuttgart composed of members of seven departments in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Its first flight was conducted entirely on solar-generated power, without using supplemental battery power. Its wings and tail section are covered in over 3,000 highly efficient solar cells. (US Department of Energy 2002 pdf file; icare 2 2011)

The Helios, NASA’s solar-powered aircraft, sets an altitude record for non-rocket powered aircraft at almost 97,000 feet, or 18 miles in the air. The Helios flies mostly in Hawaii. (US Department of Energy 2002 pdf file)


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