Solar Impulse, the solar-powered aircraft that amazed European aviation fans when it flew its 26-hour, record-setting maiden flight from its base in Switzerland to Spain and Morocco in July 2010, is set to wow audiences in the U.S. this May.
The aircraft is a zero-fuel fixed wing plane. It relies solely on solar power, equipped with 11,548 solar cells on its wings. The aircraft was built in Switzerland, a project of André Borschberg, a Swiss businessman and Bertrand Piccard, a Swiss aeronaut and psychiatrist who was the co-pilot of a non-stop balloon trip around the world.
Flights across the U.S.
Solar Impulse HB-SIA has already clocked-in several hours of non-stop flights and is set to embark on a new voyage, this time for a coast to coast flight across the United States, starting from the West Coast. The lightweight aircraft had already been disassembled and sent to the United States, where it is housed at a Moffet Field hangar.
The plan is for the aircraft to depart from Moffet Field around the early part of May and do several stops along the way at airports in Phoenix, then Dallas and from there to Atlanta before flying to Washington, DC. Their historic fuel-free flight will end at the John F. Kennedy airport in New York, which would be around the first week of July. The flight will take about 20 to 25 hours for one point to the next.
Solar Impulse’s visit to the America has been dubbed the Across America U.S. Tour. On their stops in different states the crew plans to hold educational activities, conferences and other events to provide inspiration and motivation. The team is scheduled to stay at each stop-over point of their journey for ten days. The activities planned for the U.S. Tour will be streamed live on the website of the aircraft.
Aim of their journey
The Solar Impulse’s team’s aim is simple. They want to highlight the fact the clean technologies, pioneering and far-reaching vision coupled with a team of passionate people could make something impossible happen.
The tour of the United States will be the last for this year. They are getting ready for their most ambitious project. Planned for 2015 is a tour of the world. While the team and supporters believe that it would a worthy journey, they do feel apprehensive that the flight over the Pacific Ocean, which would take five days, could be a thrilling and scary ride. Its weight makes the aircraft vulnerable to inclement weather and it could not fly through clouds as it could impede the recharging of its batteries.
The team behind the creation of the Solar Impulse says that the aircraft will not replace the commercial fueled-powered aircrafts. What they want to convey to the world is that there are innovative technologies to provide solutions for clean and renewable energy and the potentials of using alternative energy sources like the solar power.