Solar Plane AHOY!
From our friends at ECO People http://ecopeopleltd.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/is-a-bird-no-its-solar-plane/
A 26-hour long flight was completed in 2010 starting from Switzerland and finishing in Morocco. So what you might ask? Well this plane was powered solely by solar energy. Impressed? Now the high-tech plane, powered completely by the sun, will attempt to fly coast-to-coast across the U.S. starting in May.
On Thursday, Solar Impulse pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg announced that they will take off from Moffett Air Field at NASA Ames Research Centre in Mountain View, California on May 1 and intend to head East to New York City. Along the way, they’ll make stops in Phoenix, Dallas, Washington, D.C. and either St. Louis, Nashville or Atlanta. They anticipate the entire trip will take approximately two months to complete.
The Solar Impulse features an enormous wingspan of 208 feet, most of which is covered in solar panels. Energy that is collected through those panels is stored in lithium-polymer batteries, which allow the plane to stay airborne even after the sun goes down. Due to its rather large size, the plane flies at a relative low altitude of just 6000 feet and at a cruising speed of about 43 mph. That may not sound very fast, but considering the entire aircraft is powered by clean energy, it is still exciting!
Understandably we’re a long way from powering commercial airliners with solar power, but this experimental aircraft is a step in the right direction. If all goes well with this flight, the team intends to attempt a round-the-world flight in 2015.