July 22, 2006 Panasonic (AKA Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd) certainly comes up with some interesting and original promotional concepts for its Oxyride battery business. In April 2005 we wrote about the company visiting Japanese schools and shopping malls to demonstrate a car powered by two AA-size Oxyride batteries and now comes the news of battery-powered flight. Yes folks, Panasonic together with the Tokyo Institute of Technology (TIT), has been working on the Oxyride Dry Cell Manned Flight Project since January this year. On July 16, the airplane powered by 160 AA-size Oxyride dry cell batteries flew a distance of 391.4 meters at an altitude of 6.11 meters at Okegawa Airport in Saitama Prefecture on the northern outskirts of Tokyo. The one-seat airplane, weighing 54 kg with a wingspan of 31 meters and piloted by a TIT student weighing 53 kg, was in the air for 59 seconds.
The effort by the Tokyo Institute of Technology students was remarkable in that the flight covered a greater distance than the 259 meters recorded by the Wright Brothers for the first manned, sustained flight powered by a gasoline engine back in 1903.
Indeed, after successfully completing the official attempt, the students tried another flight powered by only 96 batteries and flew a distance of 269.3 meters in 39 seconds at an altitude of 1.42 meters – once more longer than the Wright Brothers first flight on December 17, 1903.
The flight took place in front of officials of the Japan Aeronautic Association (JAA) to make it an official record, following the rules set by the JAA. They will further seek official recognition from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) as the world's first manned flight on dry cell batteries.