On May 4, 2013, the Solar Impulse completed the first leg of its historic trip across America and successfully launched the “Clean Generation” initiative – the first crossing of the United States by a solar-powered airplane capable of flying day and night. Pilot Bertrand Piccard departed Moffett Airfield at NASA’s Ames Research Center at 6:12 AM PDT and arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, 18 hours and 18 minutes later, at 12:30 AM MST. “We’ve been dreaming about crossing the United States for years – land of scientific research, innovation and aviation pioneers – and it’s hard to believe it’s really happening.” said André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard. “We are thrilled to have safely and successfully completed this first leg and we weren’t alone: thousands of names of our supporters virtually accompanied us. With them, we launched the “Clean Generation” initiative promoting clean technologies.” This was the first of five legs that will lead the project’s co-founders, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, to alternately fly the Solar Impulse coast-to-coast from California to New York. The “Clean Generation” initiative is a global awareness-raising movement advocating for greater investment in innovative technologies for sustainable energy production and use.
Flight Report: San Francisco – Phoenix
Pilot: Bertrand Piccard
Take-off time: May 3, 2013 6:12 AM PDT
Time of landing: May 4, 2013 12:30 AM MST
Flight duration: 18 hours 18 minutes
Average ground speed: 35.28kts
Highest altitude reached: 21,000 ft
Average altitude: 10,000 ft
Flight distance: 747.5 miles
About Solar Impulse
Swiss pioneers Dr. Bertrand Piccard (Chairman) and André Borschberg (CEO) are the founders, pilots and the driving force behind Solar Impulse, the first airplane that can fly day and night without fuel. Solar Impulse is a unique adventure that aims to bring emotions back at the heart of scientific exploration, a flying laboratory to find innovative technological solutions for today’s challenges and a vision to inspire each of us to be pioneers in our everyday lives.
Solar Impulse has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 (208 ft) and the weight of a small car (3,527 lbs). It is the result of seven years of intense work, calculations, simulations and tests by a team of about 80 people and 100 partners and advisors. The 12,000 solar cells built into the wing provide four 10HP electric motors with renewable energy. By day the solar cells recharge the lithium batteries which allow the Solar Impulse to fly at night.
The primary purpose is not to revolutionize aviation, but the way in which people think about energy and clean technologies. If Solar Impulse technologies were used on a massive scale, the world would be able to save up to 50% of the current consumption of fossil energy.
The team is currently building a second airplane which should be ready for test flights in summer 2014, and they are also planning a round-the-world tour scheduled for 2015.
Thanks to the Solar Impulse team for providing the information.