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    1. Project Sunrise

    2. Los Angeles California 1974

    3. Flight of the Worlds First Solar Powered Aircraft

    4. by

    5. Roland Boucher

Design and, Construction


Project Sunrise was a proof-of-concept version of a solar powered aircraft capable of extended flights (months) at altitudes in excess of 100,000 feet. This concept came to fruition 28 years later in when Project Helios exceeded 100,000 feet altitude..                                                                      

      P 8

This project was funded by ARPA (Advanced Research Project Agency) within the Department of Defense.


The Funding was channeled through the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in Sunnyvale California.


The contract called for development of a proof of concept aircraft powered solely by incident sunlight on the wing surfaces.


Wing span was 32 feet and gross weight was 22 pounds. Wing loading was an astounding of 4 oz. per sq. ft.


Power was from an array of solar panels mounted on the aft 2/3 of the wing surface.  Construction was of spruce and balsa with maple doublers at the attachment points.