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First Fuel Cell Microaircraft

Published in the September 2003 issue.


With a wingspan of only 15 in., the Hornet is small, even by model airplane standards. What makes it stand out is its propulsion system. Developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the microaircraft is the first plane powered entirely by a fuel cell. Lynntech of College Station, Texas, says the tiny aircraft flew successfully for 15 minutes during its maiden flight in Simi Valley, Calif., earlier in 2003. Hydrogen for the fuel cell is produced in flight. DARPA says the next version will include an automatic pilot and a color television camera. Ultimately, the tiny planes will find their way onto the battlefield, where they will be used for spy missions.

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