Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the Swiss pilots and founders of Solar Impulse, announced today that their solar-powered airplane will attempt a coast-to-coast crossing of the U.S. this spring without using a single drop of fuel.
It will be the first time that an airplane, capable of flying 24 hours non-stop day and night powered exclusively by solar energy, will fly across America. Solar Impulse will leave in early May from San Francisco (Moffett Airfield) and stop in four U.S. cities including Phoenix, Dallas Fort Worth and Washington D.C. before reaching New York’s JFK airport, its final destination in early July. Following in the footsteps of the American founding fathers of aviation, Solar Impulse’s pioneering endeavor across the U.S. will be a highly significant one: it is the last mission before attempting a zero-fuel round-the-world flight in 2015.
Solar Impulse wants to inspire and motivate as many people as possible throughout its journey across America. “We want to show that with clean technologies, a passionate team and a far-reaching pioneering vision one can achieve the impossible.” said Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse Initiator, Chairman and pilot. He further added that, “If we all challenged certitudes by driving change and being pioneers in our everyday lives, we can create innovative solutions for society’s biggest challenges.”
With the wingspan of a jumbo jet (63.4m / 208 ft) and the weight of a small car (1600kg / 3,527 lb) - this revolutionary airplane is being hailed by experts as a technological wonder. “A flying laboratory for clean technologies, this prototype is the result of seven years of intense work in the fields of materials science, energy management and man-machine interface. Many of these technologies can also be applied to sectors beyond aviation,” said André Borschberg, Solar Impulse co-founder, CEO and pilot.
In order to give everyone the possibility to be part of the adventure, Solar Impulse will organize conferences and events on educational themes in the various stopover cities where the airplane will be showcased.
The “Across America” mission at a glance:
• Early May 2013: First leg San Francisco/Moffett Airfield – Phoenix/Sky Harbor
• Mid May 2013: Second leg Phoenix/Sky Harbor – Dallas/Fort Worth
• End May – Early June 2013: Third leg Dallas/Fort Worth – stopover city TBD
• Mid June 2013: Fourth leg stopover city TBD – Washington DC/Dulles
• Early July 2013: Fifth and last leg Washington DC/Dulles – New York/JFKThe American mission flights received the financial support of the following mission partners: Solvay, Schindler, Bayer MaterialScience, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions and the Swiss Confederation.