The Sunseeker’s accomplishment may not seem as impressive as, say, the Solar Impulse crew’s plan to circumnavigate the globe using nothing but wind currents and solar power – or, even its test flight from San Francisco to Phoenix – but it’s a huge step forward in the Raymonds’ plans to bring solar-powered electric aircraft to the recreational airplane market.
Solar Flight says the Raymonds’ solar plane used energy harvested from the 1,510 solar cells on the Sunseeker Duos’ wings and tail to get off the ground. Once in the air, the solar plane can cruise/glide on just solar power – for flights of up to 12 hours. “Flying the Duo, skimming the white fluffy clouds from above and playing on the sky, I feel like a bird,” says Irena Raymond. “No limitations, a pure freedom. It’s so quiet. Compared to a normal airplane, it’s like night and day. You need very good headset in other powered airplanes, but in the Duo you can speak normally even when the motor is running full power … it’s unbelievable.”