World`s largest plane makes first flight over California in US

Rodiano Bonacci
Aprile 14, 2019

"It was an emotional moment for me, personally, to watch this majestic bird take flight", Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd said in a phone call with reporters.

Until now, it had just carried out tests on the ground.

Mr Thomas said there were "a few little things that were off-nominal but really for a first flight it was spot on".

"Today's flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems", he added.

According to Stratolaunch Systems, the results of today's test flight include "a variety of flight control maneuvers to calibrate speed and test flight control systems, including roll doublets, yawing maneuvers, pushovers and pull-ups, and steady heading side slips" as well as "simulated landing approach exercises at a max altitude of 15,000 feet mean sea level".

Allen founded Stratolaunch Systems in 2011, after funding the development of the experimental air-launched SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 became the first privately built manned rocket to reach space.

In other words, this isn't your typical airplane.

The aircraft has a wingspan of 385 ft (117 m) and a length of 238 ft (73 m). First launch tests are planned for 2020, featuring a smaller rocket with a payload of up to 816 lb (370 kg). They include the six-engine Antonov AN 225 cargo plane, which is 275.5 feet long, and the Boeing 747-8, which is just over 250 feet long. The aircraft is created to release rockets attached to the center of its enormous wing, which stretches 385 feet (117 meters) from tip to tip.

"It's so huge, it seems like it shouldn't be able to fly", aerospace and launch photographer for NASASpaceFlight.com Jack Beyer told CNN.

An audience cheers the first, historic flight of Stratolaunch. "People want to see what's next".

This handout photograph obtained courtesy of Stratolaunch shows the Stratolaunch plane flying over the California desert, April 13, 2019, the first test flight of the United States company's very big aircraft whose wingspan is nearly half that of an Airbus A380.

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