Solar Plane Completes US Cross-Country Feat

The Solar Impulse touched down at JFK International Airport after a historic two-month journey.Image

The first-ever manned planed that can fly by day or night on solar power has finished the final leg of a historic US cross-country journey.

Solar Impulse touched down at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport at 11.09pm on Saturday after leaving California in early May.

The plane has previously flown from Europe to Africa, but its creators said this was the first successful cross-continent flight.

The flight plan for the revolutionary plane, powered by some 11,000 solar cells, had called for it to pass the Statue of Liberty before landing early Sunday at New York.

But an unexpected eight-foot tear discovered on the left wing of the aircraft on Saturday afternoon forced officials to scuttle the fly-by and proceed directly to JFK for a landing three hours earlier than scheduled.

Pilot Andre Borschberg said: “It was a huge success for renewable energy. The only thing that failed was a piece of fabric.”

It was supposed to be the shortest and easiest leg. It was the most difficult one,” said Bertrand Piccard, one of the two pilots.

The aircraft soars to 30,000 feet and can reach a top speed of 45mph.

Most of the 11,000 solar cells are on the super-long wings that seem to stretch as far as a jumbo jet’s.

It weighs about the size of a small car and soars with what is essentially the power of a small motorised scooter.

The Solar Impulse has made stopovers in Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth, St Louis, Cincinnati and Dulles during its two-month journey.

The cross-country flight is a rehearsal for a planned 2015 flight around the globe with an upgraded version of the plane.

Solar Impulse’s creators view themselves as green pioneers, promoting lighter materials, solar-powered batteries, and conservation as adventurous.


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