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High-Tech Aircraft Would Work Much Like a Satellite

September 24, 1998

An oddly shaped aircraft took to the skies over the Mojave Desert on Tuesday in a demonstration of a new communications technology proposed for major cities. The High Altitude Long Operation-Proteus aircraft is designed to circle in eight-hour shifts at an altitude of 50,000 feet, functioning much like a communications relay satellite does in space.

"What we have done is [take] all the communication capacities of what might be a satellite 22,000 miles high . . . and put it 10 miles over a city," said Peter Diamandis, president of St. Louis-based Angel Technologies Corp.

Designed by Bert Rutan, designer of the globe-girdling Voyager, the aircraft is about 56 feet long and has a main wing about 92 feet long and a forward wing called a canard--a trademark of Rutan designs. It would carry a bulbous communications pod slung beneath its belly.

Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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