Page last updated at 12:17 GMT, Friday, 4 December 2009

Record-attempting solar powered plane's first 'hop'

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The Solar Impulse prototype plane, part of a planned solar-powered circumnavigation of the globe, has left the ground for the first time.

The maiden flight was dubbed a "flea hop" by project leaders, at 350m in length and a height of just one metre.

The next flight, at the Payerne air force airfield in western Switzerland, will see the plane reach an altitude of nearly 9,000m, once more using on-board batteries.

The final version of the plane will attempt a solar-powered transatlantic flight in 2012 prior to the round-the-world trip.

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