World’s Largest Plane Makes First Flight Over California


The world's largest plane, operated by aerospace venture Stratolaunch, finished its first flight examination on Saturday.

To complete this task, the aircraft is equipped with six engines, two fuselages instead of one, and a wing longer than a USA football field, which makes it the largest plane ever built in terms of wingspan.

The company reported the airplane was able to hit speeds of 189 miles per hour and heights of 17,000-feet during its 150-minute flight test, and test pilot Evan Thomas told reporters it ran smoothly.

"We are incredibly proud of the Stratolaunch team, today's flight crew and our partners", says Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch. The aircraft is created to take rockets weighing as much as 400,000 pounds to 35,000 feet for launch and will tap into the burgeoning market for communications, reconnaissance and broadband satellites being put between 300 and 1,200 miles in altitude.

Founded by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, Stratolaunch is vying to be a contender in the satellite launch market.

The plane flew Saturday for about two and a half hours, Stratolaunch said.

Nearly 116 years after the Wright Brothers created history at Kitty Hawk with the first heavier than air flight ever for 12 seconds, another piece of aviation history was created at Nojav in California on Saturday.

While Stratolaunch calls its aircraft the world's largest, other airplanes exceed it in length from nose to tail.

Stratolaunch Systems is owned by Vulcan, which manages the estate of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who died in October after complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. His specialties in test flight include aviation and test safety, aircraft stability and control testing and operational leadership of flight test teams.

The aircraft's wingspan measures 385 feet - wider than any airplane on the planet. According to the company, the Stratolaunch has a max takeoff weight of 589,670 kilograms and will one day assist in the launching of rockets - and satellites - into space. It features six Pratt & Whitney PW4056 turbofan engines, a similar type to those being used on the Airbus A300, Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 767. "Really, for a first flight, it was spot on". Until now, it had just carried out tests on the ground.