Thursday, September 2, 2010

First Night Flight of A Solar Airplane

Around 9am on July 8, the lightweight Solar Impulse HB-SIA airplane successfully landed after the first night flight ever by a solar airplane. The solar airplane took off from the Payerne airbase in Switzerland at 6:51am on July 7. The flight lasted for 26 hours and was the longest and highest flight by a manned solar-powered aircraft since many prototypes are flown using remote controls or are self-launching. It reached the maximum altitude of 28,500 feet during its flight.

Photo: Sideview of the solarplane where the SolarImpulse logo is visible

Well, how's the feeling when you fly a plane that charges itself while on flight? Cool, right? The solarplane has a total of 12,000 solar cells installed on its wingspan. Its weight can be compared to that of a small car. With that weight I'm wondering whether this plane would survive storms or not. Well, it's too early for that conclusion. However, with this zero pollution technology, I can see a brighter future. Imagine a world without the need to depend on fuels that ruin the environment and our pockets at the same time. Just to tell you, I'm a big fan of technologies that use solar energy. See my post about solar powered robots that clean the ocean from oil spills.

Photo: André Borschberg, the pilot of the Solar Impulse plane during the historical flight

"We made it through the night," those are the words heard from the 57 year old Borschberg after he successfully landed the solarplane. The video about the First Night Flight featured their countdown to sunrise and their shouts of joy after reaching this milestone that marked another history. Bertrand Piccard, who first flew a balloon around the world in 1999, has also participated in this project. But there is yet another history to be written - around the world in a solar plane. This is just the beginning.

Photo: The sunrise after the First Night Flight of a solarplane
The SolarImpulse project is founded by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg.
Photos are screenshots from the live footage video of the flight.

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