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Solar-Powered Plane Smashes World Record, Sort Of

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UK defense firm Qinetiq has smashed the world record for the longest unmanned flight. Their solar-powered Zephyr flew continuously for an incredible 54 hours, easily beating the previous 30-hour record held by a US jet aircraft. Unfortunately though, it won't be officially recognized as a record, because of a slight oversight.

The flight was pretty secretive because QinetiQ are a defense contractor, and therefore there weren't any representatives from the world air sports federation there. This means that it can't be verified and entered into the record books. A Qinetiq employee seemed sure that it could go even better though, saying; "You ain't seen nothing yet." That enthusiasm is great, but just remember to invite the FAI guys next time, OK?


The Zephyr has a huge 59-ft wingspan, but weighs only 31kg, making it extremely efficient. During the flight it reached a maximum altitude of 58,000 ft, charging it's batteries during the day so that it could fly through the night. [BBC]