A look back at an incredible summer
Raphaël and the SolarStratos team take a look back at an extraordinary period that will be remembered for a long time to come!
No sooner had the SolarStratos team welcomed test pilot Miguel A. Iturmendi to the Payerne base in early July, than the aircraft was in the air for its first round of test flights! The team held its breath as the plane took off, we were confident, but nonetheless, it is always a nerve-wracking moment. Everything had been prepared for the flights to go as planned, and they did!
Next came the first tandem flight with Raphaël Domjan onboard the experimental solar plane, and before we knew it, the big day was upon us – our two world premieres: the first jump from an electric plane and the first solar free fall. An extraordinary moment! The team was focused and confident as SolarStratos took to the sky, the friends, family and partners gathered at the Payerne base for the event, were tense as they waited for the jump. When Raphaël’s parachute opened, the collective sense of relief was palpable and as Raphaël and the plane touched down safely, the applause was deafening. It was a very intense moment, but we did it and SolarStratos will go down in the history books.
After just a moment to enjoy this dual achievement, the technical team got back to work to prepare for Raphaël to swap with Miguel and take control of the plane while the test pilot would sit in the back seat and act as an instructor.
All in all, it has been an exceptional summer. As a group, we have achieved everything that we planned and in the most glorious manner! Miguel A. Iturmendi has gone home to the United States and will return next year for another round of flights and new challenges.
The two world premieres were a huge global success in terms of image. We were hoping for good exposure, but we never imagined such a reaction! Here are two numbers that make us proud and demonstrate the interest the world has in the development of this type of experimental project.
- 140+ TV stations picked up our two world premieres and broadcast them around the globe
- 158,800 likes on the BBC News Instagram page that has 16 million subscribers
As a thank you to our partners for being present at our side and for having faithfully supported us during this extremely difficult period of COVID-19, we organised a gathering at the base in Payerne. A good time was had by all and we did a performance review and looked at upcoming deadlines.
First raid in an electric plane
100 years after the Aéropostale pioneers set up their French airmail company, the Raid Elektropostal was launched! The event is organised with several stages that take the pilots from Lausanne to Aix-en-Provence via Toulouse and Marseille.
PlanetSolar Foundation is a partner of this eco-adventure that promotes respect for the environment, and the Foundation chairman – our very own founder and pilot of SolarStratos, Raphaël Domjan – flew several stages for the Raid, aboard a Pipistrel Velis type aircraft, the first EASA certified electric aircraft.
A perfect tribute to the pioneers of Aéropostale!
First tandem flight onboard SolarStratos
This month we are celebrating two world premieres AND achieving our first tandem flight with Raphaël Domjan onboard with test pilot Miguel A. Iturmendi. The pair flew for 48 minutes with Raphaël sitting behind Miguel, watched closely by our partners, Club Members and the media!
This was a conclusive experience and decisive in the pursuit of scheduled test flights and upcoming world premieres.
World premieres: first jump from an electric aircraft and first solar free fall
SolarStratos has set its first world premieres! Watched by a large group of media and guests, Miguel A. Iturmendi flew Raphaël Domjan to an altitude of 5,000 feet (1,520 metres) from which the eco explorer performed the first parachute jump from an electric plane and the first solar free fall in history.
After just a few minutes suspended beneath the parachute, Raphaël landed at Payerne Aeropole followed 20 minutes later by the solar plane which then returned to the SolarStratos base.
This flight and these successes are of central importance in the history of the SolarStratos project. “The success of this first jump from an electric plane and this first solar free fall are the result of tremendous work by the whole team and our technical and scientific partners. This is an important step in the development of more environmentally friendly aviation”, said Raphaël Domjan after landing.
Thirty flights achieved
SolarStratos has notched up over 30 test flights, including almost 20 since flights resumed in July. The average flight time is around 30 minutes, while the longest was 51. The flights to date have been carried out by our test pilot accompanied by Raphaël Domjan at an average of 5,000 feet (1,500 metres).
Raphaël Domjan at the controls of the plane
After flying as a passenger, Raphaël Domjan took control of the plane and flew his first training flights under the test pilot’s instruction. Objective no. 1 is to take control of the plane and to become familiar with the cockpit.