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Solar plane successfully crosses USA

A Swiss duo have completed the first solar-powered flight across the USA, with the ‘Solar Impulse’ plane successfully landing in New York City on Sunday.

Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, creators of the Solar Impulse, took turns flying the plane from San Francisco to New York City between May and July. They stopped in Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Washington, D.C. to showcase the plane and share their mission.

“Flying coast-to-coast has always been a mythical milestone full of challenges for aviation pioneers. During this journey, we had to find solutions for a lot of unforeseen situations, which obliged us to develop new skills and strategies. In doing so, we also pushed the boundaries of clean technologies and renewable energies to unprecedented levels,” said Piccard.

Solar Impulse flying over Atlantic Ocean close to Atlantic City. Credit: Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse flying over Atlantic Ocean close to Atlantic City. Credit: Solar Impulse

But the plane didn’t arrive at JFK International Airport without a hitch – in fact, there was a problem with the left wing. As a result, the trip from Washington, D.C. to New York City took 3 hours less than planned, at 18 hours and 23 minutes.

“This last leg was especially difficult due to the damage of the fabric on the left wing. It obliged the team to envisage all the possible scenarios, including bailing out over the Atlantic,” said Borschberg.

“But this type of problem is inherent to every experimental endeavor. In the end, this didn’t prevent us from succeeding in our Across America mission.” he said.

All up, the journey took 105 hours and 41 minutes, covering 3511 miles at an average speed of 28.8 kt (or around 33 miles per hour).

During their time in New York, the pair will ring the Nasdaq Opening Bell, give a presentation to the U.N. and hold public visits to JFK Airport where Solar Impulse is held.

The team are planning an around-the-world tour in 2015, all with the aim of proving that renewable energies like solar can achieve much more than we may currently fathom!


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