Traveling light: Solar-powered plane scheduled to cross the U.S.By TERENCE CHEA
The Associated Press | March 31,2013AP Photo
Solar Impulse, a solar-powered plane, is displayed at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. It has the wingspan of an airliner but the weight of a family car.MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — A solar-powered plane that wowed aviation fans in Europe is set to travel across the United States with stops in Phoenix, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and New York.
The plane, Solar Impulse, is expected to be ready to leave from NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. on May 1, although the actual departure will depend on the weather, the plane’s Swiss creators said at a news conference at the NASA center.
Solar Impulse, considered the world’s most advanced solar-powered aircraft, will stop for seven to 10 days at major airports in each city, so the pilots can display and discuss the aircraft with reporters, students, engineers and aviation fans.
It plans to reach New York’s Kennedy Airport in early July — without using a drop of fuel, its creators said.
Between Dallas and Washington, D.C., the plane will also stop at one of three other cities: Atlanta, Nashville or St. Louis, said André Borschberg, Solar Impulse’s co-founder, pilot and CEO. Each leg of the flight will run 20 to 25 hours.
“We want to inspire the young generation to become pioneers, to help them find and develop their passion,” Borschberg said.
The Solar Impulse is powered by about 12,000 photovoltaic cells that cover its massive wings and charge its batteries, allowing it to fly day and night without jet fuel. It has the wing span of a commercial airplane but the weight of the average family car, making it vulnerable to bad weather.
Its creators say the Solar Impulse is designed to showcase the potential of solar power and will never replace fuel-powered commercial flights. The delicate, single-seat plane cruises around 40 mph and can’t fly through clouds.
“The more you fly, the more energy you have stored in the batteries, so it’s absolutely fabulous to imagine all the possibilities the people can have with these technologies in their daily lives,” said Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse co-founder and chairman.
In 2010, the solar plane flew nonstop for 26 hours to demonstrate that it could soak up enough sunlight to keep it airborne through the night. A year later, it went on its first international flight to Belgium and France.
Last year, the Solar Impulse made its first transcontinental voyage, traveling 1,550 miles from Madrid to the Moroccan capital Rabat in 20 hours.
Before its coast-to-coast American trip, the Solar Impulse will take test flights around the San Francisco Bay Area in April, officials said.
Piccard and Borschberg are planning an around-the-world flight in an improved version of the plane in 2015.
Piccard comes from a line of adventurers. His late father, Jacques, was an oceanographer and engineer who plunged deeper into the ocean than any other person. His grandfather Auguste, also an engineer, was the first man to take a balloon into the stratosphere.
Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones made history in 1999 when they became the first people to circle the globe in a hot air balloon, flying 25,000 miles nonstop.MORE IN This Just InVermont author and activist Bill McKibben and fellow organizers of Sunday’s People’s Climate... Full StoryVermont’s official state bird, the hermit thrush, was selected in 1941 for its flute-like song. Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1776, as Nathan Hale is hanged by British military authorities for spying, he utters his famous last words — or does he? In 1975, Sara Jane Moore attempts to kill President Gerald R. Ford in San Francisco.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Patrick McArdle reports and the theft of an $89,000 shotgun, police release a video of the Monday Castleton robbery, O'Gorman reports a lawsuit by a local man claiming his vehicle unlawfully seized, police leave him in cold.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Giles Corey of Salem, Mass., is pressed to death during the Salem witch trials; on this day in 1952, film comedian Charlie Chaplin, while traveling to England, is denied re-entry into the United States by U.S. attorney general.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Dutch father of microbiology Antonie van Leeuwenhoek discovers the existence of one-celled organisms; in 1967, The Doors are booked to play the Ed Sullivan show; in 1858, freedom fighter Dred Scott dies on this day in St. Louis.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: No money this year for western rail project, Lola Aiken memorialized in Montpelier, Supreme Court Castleton murder suspect will remain in jail, Shaftbury man fires shots from his AK-47 into neighbor's home.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev arrives in U.S. for historic 13-day visit; in 1987, Secretary of State George Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze sign nuclear reduction agreement.