Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Coast to Coast on Sun Power

By Martin A. Bartels 
Originally published by Aviation History magazine. Published Online: July 12, 2013 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

The Solar Impulse soars over the Golden Gate Bridge during tests in April 2013. [Image: Solar Impulse]
The Solar Impulse soars over the Golden Gate Bridge during tests in April 2013. [Image: Solar Impulse]

Imagine flying 900 miles at about 40 mph in a cockpit that has half the interior space of a Mini Cooper, with wings the span of a commercial jet providing lift. Now remove the gas tank, add 12,000 photovoltaic cells and a tail like a dragonfly's, and you have a rough idea of what it's like to fly Solar Impulse, the sun-powered airplane making its way across the United States this summer.

The inconveniences in achieving the seemingly impossible never really bothered Swiss co-creators and pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, who first generated attention with test flights in Europe and North Africa in 2011 and 2012. Their latest goal—to traverse the U.S. in a craft that requires no fossil fuels and can fly both by day and by night—is as much a social movement as it is a practical application of solar technologies. The U.S. effort began in San Francisco in early May with the intent of both showcasing green technology and promoting innovation. The journey has captured popular imagination, as the pilots carry a USB drive containing the names of more than 20,000 "virtual passengers" on each flight. Hundreds of spectators witness each takeoff and landing, and view the aircraft during layovers.

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to Aviation History magazine

The Solar Impulse team has achieved a number of firsts, not all of them in the air. While the team was preparing for the flight's third leg in late May, from Dallas/Fort Worth to Lambert Airport in St. Louis, severe storms damaged several hangars, including the one for which the plane was destined. The Solar Impulse ground team deployed a specially designed inflatable hangar in St. Louis, unique for its unusual dimensions (289 feet by 105 feet) and for the fact that it is translucent, allowing the plane's solar cells to recharge while docked.

Solar Impulse was expected to complete the journey's final legs, from St. Louis to Washington/Dulles, and then Dulles to New York's JFK airport, by early July. The team has plans to circumnavigate the globe in 2015. For more information, visit solar impulse.com.

Post-press update: On July 5, 2013, the Solar Impulse successfully landed at New York's JFK Airport after experiencing a rip in the fabric on the lower side of the left wing. The team was expected to return to Switzerland in mid July following a variety of media events.



Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Related Articles


History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer
HISTORYNET READERS' POLL

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
STAY CONNECTED WITH US
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The HistoryNet.com is brought to you by the Weider History Group, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History Group

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! | StreamHistory.com
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2013 Weider History Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy