Zephyr Solar Plane Lands After Over 2 Weeks (!!!) in the Air, Setting New World Record

Zephyr solar plane photo

Photo: Qinetiq
Update: Zephyr Solar Plane's 3 World Records Confirmed!
Thanks to Solar Power
A week ago we wrote about the Zephyr "Eternal Aircraft", an unmanned solar plane that had just broken many records by staying up in the air for 7 days. Well, the Zephyr has finally landed at the US Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona after 14 days and 24 minutes, setting a new record that will no doubt be broken the next time the Zephyr decides to take off (at this point, breaking records seems to only be a matter of being patient enough, since the solar plane doesn't need refueling anyway).
Zephyr solar plane photo

Photo: Qinetiq
One for the Books
The Register writes about the record-breaking flight: "The Zephyr has now well and truly busted the official world record for the longest flight for an unmanned air system (set at 30 hours 24 minutes by Northrop Grumman's RQ-4A Global Hawk in 2001). Zephyr will also have flown longer, non-stop and without refuelling, than any other aeroplane - having significantly passed the Rutan Voyager's milestone of 9 days (216hours) 3 minutes and 44 seconds airborne, set in December 1986. An FAI official was present at Yuma during the flight, so it will go in the record books."

Zephyr solar plane photo

Photo: Qinetiq
22.5 Meters of Wingspan and Just 50 Kilos
The Zephyr can stay in the air for so long because it is powered by the sun. Extremely thin and light solar panels cover its wings and are used to recharge lithium-sulphur batteries, which are used to power the aircraft's engines at night. And with a 22.5-meter wingspan, the Zephyr has a lot of surface for solar panels and a lot of lift relative to its 50Kg weight (thanks to a carbon-fiber body).

Some are calling the Zephyr the first "persistent" airplane. More poetically, we're entering the era of "eternal flight".

Via The Register
See also: The 'Eternal Aircraft' Zephyr Solar Plane Aims for 14 Days in the Air
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