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Solar Impulse sets record for longest solar flight

Solar Impulse has set a world record for distance covered in a solar aircraft, covering 957 miles between Phoenix, AZ and Dallas, TX.

The flight was the second leg of a journey across America by Swiss duo Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg. The previous distance record was also set by the pair, flying 693 miles between Switzerland and Spain in 2012.

Borschberg flew the plane for 18 hours and 21 minutes, with an average ground speed of around 52 miles per hour.

“This leg was particularly challenging because of fairly strong winds at the landing. It also was the longest flight – in terms of distance – ever flown by a solar airplane. You have to understand that the pilot needs to stay awake for more than 20 hours without any autopilot,” said André Borschberg, co-founder, CEO and pilot of Solar Impulse.

Credit: Solar Impulse

Credit: Solar Impulse

With the wingspan of a Boeing 747 (208 ft) and the weight of a small car (3,527 lb), the plane is powered by 12,000 solar cells and can fly during both the day and night.

Piccard and Borschberg launched the Clean Generation initiative to bring attention to the potential offered by solar power and other clean technologies, and have been carrying lists of supporters’ names in the plane.

“It was exciting to have on board the list of the thousands of friends who support us in our goal of promoting the use of clean technologies worldwide,” added Bertrand Piccard.

The next leg of the trip is from Dallas, TX to St. Louis, MO scheduled for late May or early June. Until then, the pair will be holding a range of events in Dallas to promote the Clean Generation initiative.

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