The two-month, ground-breaking flight started in California and took 14,000 viewers along for the ride in streaming video. The “Clean Generation” initiative flight of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg successfully landed at New York John F. Kennedy International Airport at 11:09 p.m. EDT. Flying across the United States, Solar Impulse was powered only by energy that came from 12,000 solar cells installed on its wings and horizontal stabilizer.Making aviation history, the team of Solar Impulse has come a long way but has even further to go. In 2015, they plan on flying around the world, totally on solar power of course.
The Solar Impulse team will be available to the public at JFK International Airport on Saturday July 13 from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday July 14 from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Solar Impulse, the solar airplane that was set to fly across the United States, has taken off and completed the first leg of the journey from California to Arizona. Averaging an altitude of just 10,000 feet and a speed of 40.6 miles per hour, the flight took most of a day to complete. Technically, 14,000 people were on board, albeit virtually via streaming video.
Launching the “Clean Generation” initiative by completing the first leg of their 2013 Across America mission, Pilot Bertrand Piccard took off from Moffett Airfield at NASA’s Ames Research Center early Saturday morning, arriving at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport 18 hours and 18 minutes later.
Promoting greater investment in technologies for sustainable energy production and use, Piccard and Solar Impulse co-founder André Borschberg will alternate flying the five legs of the trip.”We’ve been dreaming about crossing the United States for years – the land of scientific research, innovation and aviation pioneers – and it’s hard to believe it’s really happening.” said Borschberg and Piccard as they walked down the runway in Phoenix.
Coming up in mid-May, the second leg of the journey will fly from Phoenix to Dallas/Fort Worth before continuing on to St Louis then Washington, D.C., before completing the first crossing of the United States by a solar-powered airplane at New York’s JFK airport.
The unmanned drone runs on efficient solar cells along its wingspan that charge batteries to keep it running through the night. Sunny skies over Arizona helped boost its power. Engineers hope that it will be the first “eternal plane”, never having to land. Qinetiq, the UK defense firm that designed it and flew it over a US military base, said there was no need for it to land yesterday but that it had proven its worth and is now ready for production.
The US military is interested in using it for military purposes, but Qinetiq is also pointing up the plane’s scientific and commercial possibilities.
The previous endurance record for an unmanned drone was 30 hours, 24 minutes. A manned solar plane, the Solar Impulse, recently flew through the night on a 24-hour flight.