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SolarEagle will soar in the stratosphere for five years, kinda looks like a coathanger

Trent Wolbe

We like airplanes, but we've always felt really boxed in by the short flight times fossil fuels force us into. Apparently DARPA was feeling the crunch too, so they've slid Boeing a cool $89 mil to develop a plane that stays in the air for five years. The 435-foot-wingspan'd SolarEagle will, unsurprisingly, use photovoltaics to help keep it at 65,000 feet, where Boeing spokesman Pat O'Neil says it will "perform persistent communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions," which we hope means it will just be hanging around doing "how's the weather down there" tweets all day long. SolarEagle's first demo flight is slated for 2014.

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