Solar Impulse plane completes first test flight

As I mentioned in an earlier post, QNX Software Systems is the realtime operating system provider for the Solar Impulse project, which intends to fly a solar plane around the world in 2012.

The champagne corks were popping on December 3, because on that day, the flagship aircraft for the Solar Impulse project left the ground for the first time. The flight was just a ”flea hop” — 350 metres in length at an altitude of 1 meter — but it was an important milestone nonetheless.

Now that the plane has proved airworthy, the Solar Impulse team will dismantle it and transport it to the airfield in Payerne, Switzerland. Starting in early 2010, the plane will make its first solar test flights — the solar panels weren’t used in the initial test flight — and the team will gradually increase flight duration until the plane makes its first night flight using solar energy.

Here's a video of the test flight; the best part starts at the 0:50 mark: