First of the test flights
On 23 July, at dawn, SolarStratos took to the skies above Payerne once again for the first of many test flights – such great news for the whole team and its supporters! July was a busy month of preparations leading up to this moment: at the beginning of the month, test pilot Miguel A. Iturmendi, ran some low and medium speed tests on the tarmac at the base in Payerne. These tests were conclusive, so the technical team made various adjustments to prepare the aircraft for its first flight in 2020.
In parallel, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation issued the permit to fly and so, on Thursday 23 July, SolarStratos rolled out of the shed and took off for a low altitude flight lasting 20 minutes! Miguel A. Iturmendi, one of the team’s test pilots, was at the controls and relished the opportunity to familiarise himself with the solar prototype. On landing, he was very happy with the first experience: “I got some good feedback. SolarStratos feels like a big and very good glider. The aircraft’s climbing performance is good, better than I imagined. And you have to be vigilant when landing as the plane needs a long landing distance.”
This first flight and the upcoming test flights are designed to settle technical details in order to be able to gently increase the altitude and duration of the flights.
Here are the details of the maiden flight from the point of view of the technical team:
Thursday 23 July 2020: it is still dark at the Payerne airport. Raphaël Domjan, Roland Loos, test pilot Miguel A. Iturmendi and the entire technical team meet at the SolarStratos base.
0515: technical briefing and reminder of the planned flight manoeuvres
0530: radio and weather checks with the control tower and the chief flight officer
0540: review of synchronisation procedures, turn on measuring instruments (in particular the GPS) and sensors (flight recorder)
0545: pre-flight checks and inspection of the plane
0550: SolarStratos leaves the hangar
0600: engine system check
0630: radio check with the control tower, gate is opened
0645: taxi to runway for take off
0700: take off and first flight lasting 20 minutes
0720: soft landing and return to the base
This maiden flight was a moment of celebration for the technical team who were watching everything from the airport terrace and a happy moment for Raphaël who exclaimed: “We are back in the air! Thanks everyone! It’s awesome!”
Next came a debrief for the test pilot and the technical team, followed by a well-deserved coffee and croissant!
Welcome to our new partner
SEGULA Technologies is a French engineering group that leads projects in many different fields, including aeronautics. They are joining SolarStratos as partner and the team welcomes them onboard and thanks them for their support!
The fact that we are able to fly again is thanks to your unconditional support and we are delighted to be able to share these exceptional moments of our eco exploration with you. Thank you all for being at our side and for your continued support. We look forward to continuing this SolarStratos Mission together and are excited to be at the very beginning of a magnificent adventure.
We wish you a wonderful summer and look forward to seeing you again soon!
Raphaël Domjan and Roland Loos