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Solar-Power Craft Only a Day From Reaching Kitty Hawk

From Associated Press

Favorable winds pushed the solar-powered plane Sun Seeker about 125 miles Saturday and put the craft as close as a day from its cross-country destination of Kitty Hawk, N.C.

Pilot Eric Raymond landed at 6:15 p.m. EDT at the Lunenburg County Airport near this tiny town about 60 miles southwest of Richmond after about 6 1/2 hours in the air, said spokesman Jack Whitehouse in Los Angeles.

The plane landed about 150 miles from Kitty Hawk, birthplace of powered flight and the end of Raymond’s trip that began in California. With good weather, the plane could reach Kitty Hawk today, Whitehouse said.

Raymond averaged 20 m.p.h. Saturday in the 198-pound plane.

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“It was a good flight, good soaring weather,” Whitehouse said.

Instead of battling strong head winds, Raymond was pushed by northwest tail winds across a sky strewn with puffy clouds, Whitehouse said.

The plane suffered a slight loss of power because of a decrease of voltage from its batteries, the spokesman said. The power loss was not life-threatening for Raymond, 33, a former national hang-gliding champion.

Rather than set any records, Raymond wants to show the potential of solar power. The plane takes off under a solar-powered motor turning the propeller, then flies like a glider.

Sun Seeker took off on July 16 from Desert Center, Calif. Two days later, the craft was seriously damaged in an aborted takeoff from Lordsburg, N.M. The craft, pilot and crew returned to Lake Elsinore for repairs.

It took off again from Desert Center Aug. 2.


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