Solar-powered plane completes trip to NYC
This weekend's hot sun was beneficial for two innovators looking to change the way we take to the skies.
A solar-powered airplane touched down at Kennedy Airport late Saturday, completing the final leg of an epic journey across the United States that began over two months ago.
The Solar Impulse, its four propellers driven by energy collected from 12,000 solar cells in its wings that charge batteries for night use, landed at 11:09 p.m., organizers said.
The two pilots, Solar Impulse's co-founder and CEO André Borschberg, and the company's chairman Bertrand Piccard, said the long flight helped them better understand the aircraft. "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," Piccard said in a statement.
The experimental aircraft had left Dulles International Airport outside Washington for its last leg more than 18 hours earlier, on a route that took it north over Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.
The spindly aircraft had been expected to land in the early hours of Sunday, but the project team decided to shorten the flight after an 8-foot tear appeared on the underside of the left wing.
The condition of the aircraft was declared sufficiently stable to continue."This type of problem is inherent to every experimental endeavor," he said in a statement. "In the end, this didn't prevent us from succeeding in our Across America mission, and provided an invaluable learning experience in preparation for the round-the-world tour in 2015."
The Solar Impulse is the first solar-powered plane capable of operating day and night to fly across the United States.
With the wingspan of a jumbo jet and the weight of a small car, the aircraft completed the first leg of the journey from San Francisco to Phoenix in early May and flew later that month from Phoenix to Dallas.
From there it flew to St. Louis, stopped briefly in Cincinnati, then flew on to Washington. Anyone interested can see the futuristic plane this weekend at a special Kennedy Airport exhibit.Register at solarimpulse.com.