Solar Impulse, the solar-powered airplane of Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, successfully landed in Dallas-Fort Worth on Thursday, May 23 completing its longest leg of the 2013 Across America mission and setting a new absolute world distance record in solar aviation (832 NM/ 1’541 km).
The previous distance record was also established in Solar Impulse when André Borschberg flew 602 NM (1’116 km) from Switzerland to Spain in May 2012. The record is now to be submitted to the National Aeronautics Association before it is ultimately awarded by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI).
The flight originated Wednesday, May 22 at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport when André Borschberg took off at 04:47 a.m. MST (Arizona time). After 18 hours and 21 minutes in the air, he landed the Solar Impulse prototype at 01:08 a.m. CDT Thursday at Dallas- Fort Worth International Airport. This is the second of five legs Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will alternately fly from California’s Bay Area to New York City.
“This leg was particularly challenging because of fairly strong winds at the landing. It also was the longest flight – in terms of distance – ever flown by a solar airplane. You have to understand that the pilot needs to stay awake for more than 20 hours without any autopilot” said André Borschberg, co-founder, CEO and pilot of Solar Impulse who still holds the record for the longest duration ever in a solar powered airplane with 26 hours.
Five custom-designed flags displaying the Clean Generation slogan are carried by the pilots and handed over to civic leaders at each stop. To help bring attention to the need for clean technologies, Piccard and Borschberg have launched the Clean Generation initiative. Solar Impulse has gained the support of thousands of influential people worldwide, including key opinion leaders such as Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and filmmaker James Cameron.