|Across America Mission, an Important Milestone both in the Air and on the Ground.|
A revolutionary solar airplane built in Switzerland by a private civilian team successfully flew across the USA in six hours covering more than 3500 miles despite being confronted with weather challenges and damage to the wing on its final flight.
Solar Impulse, the first airplane ever to fly day and night on solar energy only, once again proved the reliability and efficiency of clean technologies. With each stop along the way, the project and its Co-Founders, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, captured the hearts and minds of supporters.
With 75.000 people visiting the plane or meeting the pilots over a 10-week period, the Across America Mission Flights illustrated an overwhelming response to the promotion of clean technologies and renewable energies.
In addition to setting a new milestone in the history of aviation by being the first solar-powered plane to fly day and night across the USA without using a single drop of fuel, the success of Solar Impulse also marks a series of historical and technological firsts in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Solar Impulse flew 3511miles with a total flight time of 105 hours, 41minutes. From San Francisco, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg alternately flew Solar Impulse to Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Washington D.C. and New York City. Flying from Phoenix to Dallas-Fort Worth, Solar Impulse broke the world distance record in the solar aviation category of the FAI (936 miles / 1506 km).
The journey was also filled with numerous challenges, often putting the team in situations never encountered before. The landing in Dallas was particularly difficult as Solar Impulse had to face strong winds that equaled the approach speed of the plane; in St. Louis it was the first time that the team had to operate with its inflatable mobile structure after a storm destroyed the hangar that should have hosted Solar Impulse; strong winds also forced Solar Impulse to make an unforeseen pit stop in Cincinnati before reaching Washington; and finally, an 8 feet / 2.5 meters tear appeared on the fabric on the underside of the left wing during the flight to New York, forcing the plane to land earlier than planned and potentially jeopardizing the final leg.
As in every pioneering endeavor, the team had to show resourcefulness and flexibility in order to adapt constantly to unforeseen situations, whereas the plane, once again, proved its reliability and reaffirmed the efficiency of clean technologies.