Solar Impulse Flight

Solar Impulse Flight

3 August, 2016
A Vision for a Sustainable Future
The Solar Impulse 2 flies 40,000 km without a drop of fuel
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Something incredible was accomplished last week - the first around-the-world solar flight, powered with no fuel or polluting emissions!
 
The Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) touched down in Abu Dhabi on 26th July, after travelling for two days and 37 minutes from Cairo; and the final leg was a bumpy one. Pilot Bertrand Piccard had to fight to control the plane, as he faced frequent turbulence due to the hot desert air.
 
By landing back in Abu Dhabi after a total of 23 days of flight and 43,041 km travelled in a 17-leg journey, Si2 has proven that clean technologies can achieve the impossible.
 
“This is not only a first in the history of aviation; it’s before all a first in the history of energy. The same clean technologies used on Solar Impulse could be implemented on the ground in our daily life to divide by two the CO2 emissions in a profitable way. Solar Impulse is only the beginning, now take it further ” said Initiator, Chairman, and Pilot, Bertrand Piccard, addressing the crowd while exiting the cockpit of Si2.
 
“Flying one leg with a completely new type of airplane is difficult enough, but flying around the world is a real challenge. More than a demonstration, it’s the confirmation that these technologies are truly dependable and reliable,” emphasized CEO, Co-Founder and also Pilot, André Borschberg.
 
The Si2 plane is powered by the 17,248 solar cells located on its wings. During the daylight, these solar panels charge up the plane’s batteries, which make up a quarter of the craft’s 2.3 tonne weight. The plane flies at about 30 mph, although it can go faster if the sun is bright.
 
André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard piloted the different legs of the journey alternately. The conditions inside the cabin were tough. Up to five straight days were spent in a small cabin, which was unheated and unpressurised, and the pilots could only take short naps. The single seat also doubled up as a toilet!
 
But Bertrand said his biggest challenge was getting his pilot’s licence in the first place: “The challenge was to come from the world of ballooning and hang gliding to the world of aeroplanes and instruments and procedures. When I initiated the project, I had no aeroplane licence so I had to work for it over six years. I did hundreds of hours to be allowed to fly a prototype aeroplane.”
 
Bertrand Piccard is no stranger to scientific exploration and the protection of the environment. His grandfather, Auguste Piccard, invented the principle of the pressurized cabin, the stratospheric balloon, and the bathyscaphe (first deepsea submarine). His father, Jacques Piccard, continued this legacy by becoming the man to have dived the deepest in the world, reaching a depth of 10,916 meters in the Mariana Trench.
 
The leg between Nagoya to Hawaii broke the world record for the longest uninterrupted flight, taking a total of five days and five nights to reach its destination.
 
The Solar Impulse journey has not been an entirely smooth flight however. Bad weather in China forced the plan to make an emergency landing in Japan. Overheating batteries on its journey to cross the Pacific Ocean also forced it to spend the winter inside a Hawaiian hanger.
 
These problems seem slight however in the knowledge the Si2 has now successfully made it’s round the world trip. 
 
"Solar Impulse has flown more than 40,000 kilometers without fuel, but with an inexhaustible supply of energy and inspiration. This is a historic day for Captain Piccard and the Solar Impulse team, but it is also a historic day for humanity," said the UN Secretary-General, Ban-ki Moon. "You may be ending your around the world flight today, but the journey to a more sustainable world is just beginning. The Solar Impulse team is helping to pilot us to that future."

By: Kyrah Mckenzie
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