Solar Airplane Lands in NYC After Cross-Country Flight

In just over two months, Solar Impulse has become the first airplane to cross the US powered only by the sun. 

The plane – which gets its power from 12,000 solar cells across its 207-foot wings – landed in New York City late Saturday.

It started its flight on May 3rd in San Francisco and has stopped in Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Washington, D.C.

The epic journey ended with some drama, as a 8- foot tear in the left wing meant that a planned Statue of Liberty fly-over had to be cancelled – luckily neither the pilot nor plane were in any danger.

The plane was initially meant to demonstrate it could fly during both day and night, but just for 24 hours. But it has performed so well that it’s flown across Europe and Africa (separate trips) and now across the US.

While it has the same wingspan as a jumbo jet, Solar Impulse weighs just 1.6 tons, about that of a small car. Its light weight turned out to be a major factor in the efficiency of the solar.

Solar Impulse

The solar cells charge four large batteries under the wings, which store about as much energy as Tesla’s electric car. Also on the bottom of the wings are tiny motors, helping it travel at about 43 miles per hour.   

In 2010, Impulse completed a 24-hour test flight that demonstrated its ability to fly through the night with power stored during daylight hours. Last June, it flew its first intercontinental flight, from Spain to Morocco.  

The project has $112 million in backing with various manufacturers involved in the technology that are using it as a way to test new materials and gain brand recognition.  

Piccard and Borschberg plan to finish a larger, two-seat plane, and fly it around the world in the spring of 2015.

Here is their website:

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