On November 21st, 2014 the Institute fur Architekturebezogene Kunst at TU Braunschweig hosted a "solar sculpture workshop" with undergraduate and graduate-level students in the "Becoming Solar" seminar, co-taught by Tomás Saraceno, Jol Thomson and myself. After hearing a brilliant lecture by Dr. Bronislaw Szerszynski, we teamed up to design and construct four "solar sculptures" - air-filled objects that can fly by harnessing the energy of the sun. The workshop continued into the night and there was even a dance party inside two of the solar sculptures (named 'Frankie' and 'Charlie'). We frequently checked with weather report for news of sunshine.
The following morning we transported the solar sculptures to a field near Wolfsbüttel, Germany and inflated them with the wind. With the help of radio-amateur and telecommunications specialist Sven Steudte we attached a pre-programmed GPS tracking device and camera to Charlie. At around 8:30am we tried to launch: Charlie drifted across a field, made buoyant by air warmed with the sun. Then a large tear opened in the back of the sculpture and the sculpture sailed to the ground.
This was the first sculpture we lifted off the ground with solar energy alone - it was a great success!