From hybrid to hydrogen powered planes….100 years of greener flight
In April 1979, the first manned aircraft to fly on solar power set off for a three minute journey, reaching 40ft (12m) and flying 0.5 miles (0.8 km). The aircraft’s pilot and creator, Larry Mauro, shortly afterwards told press that he wanted to improve on this model so that one day planes would “regularly take off and fly around all day on nothing but the solar-generated electricity that we’re producing as we buzz along.”
Fast forward 35 years to the early hours of Monday 9 March 2015 when Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) is about to become the first aircraft to try to circumnavigate the Earth in an aircraft powered only by the sun’s rays.
But is, as Mauro anticipated, solar powered aircraft the future of aviation? Aviation experts say it’s highly unlikely that within our lifetimes we’ll be boarding solar powered planes. So, if not solar, what will the future of aviation look like? Read on to find out…