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Boeing Phantom Eye takes first flight towards unmanned marathon espionage (video)

Joseph Volpe, @jrvolpe
June 5, 2012
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Boeing could've aimed a little higher for the Phantom Eye's first successful test flight. And by that, we mean the addition of one Billy Zane in a form-fitting purple leotard fending off baddies as the plane taxied the runway. None of that happened because, well, the aerospace brainiacs behind this unmanned bulbous beauty tend to err on the side of sense, not showy drama. Tant pis. Missed opportunity for ostentatious absurdity aside, the engineering outfit did manage to log in a near-perfect round trip for the hydrogen-powered spycraft, reaching an altitude of 4,080-ft after its early morning take off from Edwards Air Force Base on the first of the month. The still in-development vessel's return to terra firma wasn't without hiccups, as it did sustain minor damage to its landing gear. With further refinements, though, engineers hope to push the autonomous plane even further, prolonging the duration of the flight to an eventual four days and doing so without the need for refueling (or tending to humans). It's an obvious leap forward for cloak-and-dagger government interests, but really, it's all about the recovery of magic skulls. Right? Right. Check out the video after the break.

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