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MIT Flies Model Airplane Powered by the Blue Glow of Electric Fields and Ionic Winds

via Steven Barrett for The Conversation

About nine years ago, I started investigating using ionic winds – flows of charged particles through the air – as a means of powering flight. Building on decades of research and experimentation by academics and hobbyists, professionals and high school science students, my research group recently flew a nearly silent airplane without any moving parts.

The plane weighed about five pounds (2.45 kilograms) and had a wingspan of 15 feet (5 meters), and traveled about 180 feet (60 meters), so it’s a long way from efficiently carrying cargo or people long distances. But we have proved that it is possible to fly a heavier-than-air vehicle using ionic winds. It even has a glow you can see in the dark.

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