Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg is planning to design and build an aerial vehicle resembling a sailplane that will have the capability of flying around the globe in five days.
Vekselberg, who heads one of Russia's largest conglomerates, the Renova Group, told Russian President Vladimir Putin about his plans. Vekselberg hopes to achieve the feat in the next two years. The vehicle will fly non-stop and aim to break all flight records related to range, duration and altitude.
"We will build an aerial vehicle that will rise to an altitude of 16km and will make a non-stop flight around the globe in 120 hours," said Vekselberg.
The vehicle is expected to operate on solar batteries so that no pit stops are needed to refuel through the flight time. Although similar technology exists on other flying machines tested earlier, Vekselberg aims to set a world record. The previous attempt to set a record was made by a man in the US, when a flight took 560 hours and necessitated 15 landings.
There has been no detailed explanation on the design of the plane, but it will loosely be a sailplane-like structure to help it glide easily and fast. Sailplanes are glider aircraft that use rising air currents to maintain altitude or climb. Although sailplanes have a motor engine, it is used only as a sustainer (maintains the velocity of a space vehicle) as the plane relies on gliding technique.
"We have started carrying out the project and will present the schedule of the way we see the implementation of the project and we hope very much that the Russian Geographical Society will support this initiative," Veklesberg was quoted as having told Putin.