Plane Powered by Solar Energy Completes Trek Across U.S.
July 9, 2013 12:24 AM
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It flew from San Francisco to New York
Planes make trips across the U.S. all the time. Nothing too special, right? Except a solar-powered one just traveled cross-country for the first time.
, which is a solar-powered plane, traveled from San Francisco in early May to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. It finally landed at 11:09 p.m. last Saturday night.
What took the plane so long, you ask? It made stops in between San Francisco and New York in cities such as Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth, Dulles, St. Louis and Cincinnati.
The Solar Impulse is equipped with about 11,000 solar cells on a pair of jumbo wings. It would fly from early morning to late at night, collecting sunlight for a completely fuel-free flight. The aircraft would reach 30,000 feet off the ground at a top speed of 45 mph.
The Solar Impulse is about the size of a small car, running only on the power equivalent to a "small motorized scooter" according to
The Washington Post
While the plane successfully made it to New York, the flight wasn't perfect. An eight-foot tear on the lower left side of the wing occurred during the last leg of the trip, which was discovered in New Jersey. The Solar Impulse was supposed to pass the Statue of Liberty before landing, but issues with the tear caused the plane to have to land three hours early at JFK instead.
“It was a huge success for
,” said Andre Borschberg, pilot of the Solar Impulse. “The only thing that failed was a piece of fabric.”
This flight was a test before developing a more advanced version, which will make a trip around the world in 2015.
The Washington Post
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RE: Impressive for a fragile plane.
7/9/2013 1:47:36 PM
Given that they experienced a tear in the wing, my guess would be they have very slim safety margins and the plane can only fly in "perfect" weather. So it spent most of the time on the ground while they waited for "perfect" weather conditions along each next flight leg.
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