Sunday, May 05, 2013

Solar Plane Takes 18 Hrs To Complete First Leg Of "Across America" Mission

Adventurer Bertrand Piccard piloted his solar-powered airplane called Solar Impulse from San Francisco to Phoenix on Saturday, marking the first leg of his "Across America" fuel-free flight. The flight, which would have taken less than 2/3 the time in a car, started out from Moffett Field in the San Francisco Bay Area on Friday and ended when a landing at Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport at 12:30 a.m. MST.

Solar Impulse is being piloted by Andre Borschberg, Solar Impulse's co-founder and CEO, and Swiss psychiatrist and adventure balloonist Bertrand Piccard who is mote noted for his record-setting, round-the-world balloon trips.

The solar only plane draw its power from its 12,000 photovoltaic cells, which soak up sunlight and store the electrical energy in batteries for use when the sun isn't shining. The plane generates as much power as a motor scooter for its four 10-horsepower motors.

Over the next couple of months, Solar Impulse is due to fly from Phoenix to Dallas-Fort Worth, then to St. Louis, then Washington, then New York. As ambitious as this odyssey is, it's just a warm-up for the venture's ultimate goal: circumnavigating the world with solar power in 2015.

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