Science: Icarus Would Have Loved It

A 217-lb. plane conquers the English Channel with solar power

Looking like a youngster's stick-and-rubber-band model, the oddly shaped plane headed slowly down the runway at the small airport near Cormeilles-en-Vexin, a village 25 miles northwest of Paris. It rose only about 50 ft. before sinking haplessly back to the ground. Five more times it tried to fly. On its seventh attempt it was able to get enough lift to make one complete turn before landing again. Finally, on the eighth, it began to rise, climbing in gently looping circles, like a hawk riding...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!