Solar Power Plane Flies Across US
For its developers, it’s a dream come true: a solar airplane that can also fly in the dark. “Solar Impulse” has survived the first chapter of its flight across the United States. And who invented it? The Swiss. Germany’s Handelsblatt reports.
Phoenix, Arizona. The solar aircraft “Solar Impulse” has completed the first part of its U.S. flight successfully. The small machine that can fly without sunlight day and night, reached the city of Phoenix, Arizona early Saturday morning , local time. Hours earlier, the plane had taken off in the vicinity of San Francisco, California.
The “Solar Impulse” is known as the most advanced solar powered aircraft in the world. According to the organizers of this event, this constitutes the first attempt by a “solar energy only” powered aircraft to cross the United States. The first portion of the flight has been completed, partially in total darkness.
Swiss scientist Bertrand Piccard, one of the developers of the aircraft and pilot of the now completed flight, spoke before the start of a milestone for the aviation industry. All the great pioneers of the 20th Century had tried to fly from coast to coast across the United States. After landing in Phoenix, Piccard said “it’s a bit like a dream.”
After Phoenix, there are planned stop-overs in Dallas-Fort Worth, St. Louis, Washington and New York. The expected flight time from one stop to the next is 19 to 25 hours.
The aircraft is powered by batteries that are charged with solar energy via 12,000 photovoltaic cells mounted on its wings. The “Solar Impulse” has only one seat and its top speed is 64 kilometers per hour. The machine can not fly through clouds and weighs about as much as a car. Its developers do not expect solar planes to replace conventional airliners.