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UPDATED MAY 9, 2011
: Just eight days after its first flight, Phantom Ray completed its second flight on May 5 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Phantom Ray took off at approximately 12:15 p.m. Pacific. Similar to its first flight on April 27, the autonomous vehicle taxied, flew to 7,500 feet, conducted several maneuvers and landed safely after a 17-minute flight. Phantom Ray seeks to demonstrate advanced technologies.

Phantom Ray makes first flight

Phantom Ray

Boeing Photo

Phantom Ray, Boeing's fighter-sized unmanned airborne system, takes off April 27 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for it first flight. Phantom Ray reached a speed of 178 knots and an altitude of 7,500 feet.

Phantom Ray, Boeing’s fighter-sized unmanned airborne system (UAS), took to the early morning skies April 27 at Edwards Air Force Base in California for its first flight.

The 17-minute flight was deemed a success, and program manager, Craig Brown, celebrated this significant milestone with the Phantom Ray Team.

“We were confident it would fly and perform well,” said Brown. “It feels great to have this first one under our belt.”

Phantom Ray took off at 9:05 a.m. Pacific and climbed to an altitude of 7,500 feet above mean sea level to demonstrate basic airworthiness. The unmanned aircraft, operating autonomously, gracefully banked and turned as it completed its racetrack flight path over the dry lake beds at Edwards.

Phantom Ray

Boeing Photo

The picture perfect flight came four months after Phantom Ray arrived in California in December from St. Louis on the back of a NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft to begin ground testing and high-speed taxi tests in preparation for its first flight. Phantom Ray was rolled out May 10, 2010, at a ceremony in St. Louis.

“It was a beautiful sight,” said Teri Finchamp, Phantom Ray’s manufacturing lead. “I’ve been part of this program since the beginning, and while I’ve imagined this day a hundred times, nothing can compare to actually seeing the Phantom Ray in the air.”

Brown, a former Air Force F-16 pilot, said first flight went as smoothly as the March taxi tests. “Watching it taxi and now fly, I think with the autonomy we’ve demonstrated we are definitely seeing the future of unmanned flight,” said Brown.

Phantom Ray will conduct additional flights in the coming weeks. It is one of several programs in Boeing’s Phantom Works division, including Phantom Eye, which is part of a rapid prototyping initiative to design, develop and build advanced aircraft and then demonstrate their capabilities. Boeing's portfolio of UAS solutions also includes the A160T Hummingbird, Integrator, ScanEagle and SolarEagle.

Phantom Ray

Boeing Photo

Team members ready the Phantom Ray, Boeing's fighter-sized unmanned airborne system, for its first flight on April 27 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

To learn more about the milestones that Phantom Ray has successfully completed leading up to first flight, check out these Boeing.com stories:

Phantom Ray makes its debut in St. Louis
Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and Phantom Ray make tandem flight
Phantom Ray now at Edwards Air Force Base