Earth Day: First Solar-Powered Airplane to Fly Around the World Back in the Air

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Abu Dhabi, UAE: After the succesful unloading of Solar Impulse 2 from the cargo, today the Plane is being reassembled in order to get ready for the test flights. The attempt to make the first round-the-world solar-powered flight is scheduled to start in March 2015 from Abu Dhabi. Solar Impulse will fly, in order, over the Arabian Sea, India, Myanmar, China, the Pacific Ocean, the United States, the Atlantic Ocean and Southern Europe or Northern Africa before closing the loop by returning to the departure point. Landings will be made every few days to change pilots and organize public events for governments, schools and universities.

Just in time for Earth Day, the first solar powered airplane to fly around the world, “Solar Impulse 2,” silently lifted off on Thursday to complete the final historic leg of its marathon journey.

The two Swiss pioneers behind the project are attempting the first Round-The-World Solar Flight with no fuel, to support concrete actions for sustainability and demonstrate that the world can be run on clean technologies.

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It is not the first solar airplane, but it is the first to fly day and night, without any fuel, only using energy stored in its batteries. It is also the first to have achieved an oceanic crossing — five days and nights from Nagoya, Japan, to Kalaeloa, Hawaii — and breaking all distance and duration world records for solar aviation (80 hours and 5,663 km / 3,519 miles) by remaining airborne three consecutive days and nights.

Solar Impulse’s trip around the world is being achieved by flying to and landing at several airports and locations around the globe.

Hawaii, USA, Feb 26th 2016: Solar Impulse 2 undertakes a maintenance flight performed by the test pilot Markus Scherdel in Hawaii before the resuming of the First Round-the-World Solar flights late April 2016. The Round-the-World Flight will take 500 flight hours and cover 35í000 km. Swiss founders and pilots, Bertrand Piccard and AndrÈ Borschberg hope to demonstrate how pioneering spirit, innovation and clean technologies can change the world. The duo will take turns flying Solar Impulse 2, changing at each stop and will fly over the Arabian Sea, to India, to Myanmar, to China, across the Pacific Ocean, to the United States, over the Atlantic Ocean to Southern Europe or Northern Africa before finishing the journey by returning to the initial departure point. Landings will be made every few days to switch pilots and organize public events for governments, schools and universities.

Now, the aircraft is on its way from Hawaii to San Francisco. The 2,500 mile journey is expected to take about 62 hours. Though the plane has the impressive wingspan of a 747 passenger jet, it is extremely light and weighs only about as much as a small SUV. Because of this, the weather and all other flight conditions need to be nearly perfect for the journey to ultimately succeed.

The journey started in Abu Dhabi last March and that is where the crew hopes to eventually end up; but the hope of circling the Earth has been met with some delays and challenges. Progress toward Hawaii was slow due to the weather, which forced the plane to divert to Japan. There, the aircraft was damaged during a storm while parked on the tarmac.

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“During my round the world balloon flight in 1999, the seven days I spent over the Pacific were the most nerve-wrecking and thrilling,” said Bertrand Piccard, Initiator and Chairman of Solar Impulse, currently at the controls of the solar airplane.

“With Solar Impulse the flight should last for three days, but this time I am alone in the cockpit, so the intensity is no less important. Every morning you have the suspense of knowing how much energy is left in your batteries. Then, with the sunrise comes the virtuous circle of perpetual flight,” he added.

Solar-Impulse-Construction

Piccard and his partner and engineer, Andre Borschberg, are taking turns in steering the airplane and are only allowed to take 20 minute naps in between. Despite the physical and mental demands, both pilots have met every setback with hope and determination even when the plane’s batteries died as Borschberg flew five miles high and pushed the plane to its limits setting another world record for the fastest solar powered flight. The team took nine months to repair and prepare for take off once again.

Piccard and Borschberg remain undaunted as $20 million in new funding for the project has enabled the intrepid explorers to outfit the plane with new batteries as well as with a state of the art cooling system that will take them the rest of the way.

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After reaching San Francisco, they look to fly across the United States with stops in the Midwest and in New York City. After that, they hope to head off for Europe, Africa and, finally, land in Abu Dhabi where it all began.

They expect to reach their final destination later in the summer after having traveled 27,000 around the world.

“Now what we want to do is continue our flight around the world and demonstrate that these technologies can be used, not only in an airplane, but on the ground,” Borschbeg concluded. “That is why Bertrand initiated the project and I am moved that he will be experiencing full day and night cycles without any fuel.”

You can follow their journey and watch live footage right here.

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About the author: Kevin Sawyer

 

Kevin Sawyer is a widely published freelance writer from Tampa. He has written thousands of articles on thousands of subjects for hundreds of companies, website blogs, magazines, and news sites. He is also the author of several ebooks and specializes in SEO content writing as well as social media management and marketing.

 

Recent posts in International

 

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