1. Project Sunrise

    2. Los Angeles California 1974

    3. Flight of the Worlds First Solar Powered Aircraft

    4. by

    5. Roland Boucher

Project Sunrise was Conceived by Roland Boucher in 1972 while he was employed by Hughes Aircraft. The concept was disclosed to management and was reviewed by one of Hughes’ aerodynamicists, Bodat Wandzura. Hughes released the concept to Roland Boucher in 1973. A patent was then applied for but was denied.

In 1973 Mr Roland Boucher took a leave of absence from Hughes Aircraft and joined his Brother Bob Boucher in forming Astro Flight Inc. which up to then was a small model airplane manufacturer located in Venice California. Roland Boucher was its first President and designer of its electrical power systems. In addition to his work on model aircraft motors and batteries he was responsible for the development of the motors and batteries for for an electric powered battlefield drone.

This Contract was managed by Bob Boucher under a DARPA contract which was funded through the Northrop Corporation. The drone aircraft flew successfully for one hour carrying a 5 pound payload and was shown on Los Angels television.

In January 1974, Astro Flight received the long awaited contract to develop Project Sunrise. Roland Boucher resigned the presidency of Astro Flight and devoted his full attention to the development of this project which was funded through the Lockheed Corp. in Sunnvale California.  Astro Flight rented the loft above its main shop for the Project Sunrise and the program began.

Roland Boucher was responsible for all structural design, aerodynamics, telemetry and control, and something new, navigation, as well as the solar panel, electric motors, gearbox and propeller. Most of the actual construction was performed by Mr. Phil Bernhardt and an associate, both expert model builders with wide experience. Mr. James Odino agreed to provide the R/C transmitters and receivers for both control and telemetry. Henry Radio supplied the amplifier used to boost the power of the R/C hand held control unit, and Heliotech supplied the solar cell arrays.

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