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Gossamer Penguin

The Gossamer Penguin is a solar-power experimental aircraft created by Paul MacCready 's AeroVironment.

The Penguin was a three-quarters scale version of the Gossamer Albatross II, and had a 71 ft.(21.64 meter) wingspan and a weight, without pilot, of 68 lb (31 kg). The powerplant was an AstroFlight Astro-40 electric motor, driven by a 541 watt solar panel consisting of 3920 solar cells.

Initial test flights were performed using a 28 cell NiCad battery pack instead of a panel. The test pilot for these flights was MacCready's 13 year old son Marshall, who weighed 80 lb (36 kg).

The official pilot for the project was Janice Brown, a charter pilot with commercial, instrument, and glider ratings who weighed slightly less than 100 lb (45 kg). She flew the Penguin approximately 40 times before a 1.95 mi (3.14 km) public demonstration at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on August 7, 1980.

After touring around the country for trade shows and museum exhibitions, the aircraft was donated by AeroVironment to The Science Place, a science museum in Dallas, TX, in the mid 1980's. After exhibiting the Penguin for about 15 years, the aircraft was in poor condition. The Mylar skin was falling apart and the styrofoam was aging severely. In 1995, The Science Place loaned the aircraft to the Cavanaugh Flight Museum, who had plans to put it on display, but due to space constraints and the aircrafts' poor condition, these plans never materialized. In 2006, The Science Place merged with another museum, and the records of the loan were misplaced. The aircraft was largely forgotten and remained in storage until January 2024, when The Science Place Foundation, a small nonprofit history project, rediscovered the loan paperwork and located the Penguin. The Cavanaugh museum eventually announced that it would be closing within the year due to financial reasons, and returned the Penguin to The Science Place Foundation on April 15, 2024. The foundation has since announced plans to restore the aircraft to "displayable condition".

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