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Solar Impulse Sets Out Across America [VIDEO]

Tom Schueneman's picture

Environmental writer, journalist and web publisher. Founder of

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  • May 8, 2013 12:30 am GMT

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Solar Impulse across AmericaWe recently posted about a press conference we recently attended at Moffett Field outside San Francisco, California for a close-up look at Solar Impulse, the world’s first solar-powered airplane. The preparations for the Solar Impulse Across America adventure have now come to fruition. Solar Impulse will cross the US, making five stops along the way, having reached its first stop at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport May 4th at about 1am, for an estimated flight time of 19 hours.

Subsequent stops include Dallas/Ft. Worth International  Airport; Lambert-St. Louis International Airport; Dulles International Airport and a final stop at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. At each stop Solar Impulse will be on display for the public to see the groundbreaking airplane as it kicks off the Clean Generation initiative to raise awareness of the potential of clean and renewable sources of energy.

Follow progress of Solar Impulse live and stay tuned as we track progress of the airplane as she makes her way across the country in the coming weeks.

Featured image credit: Dominique Favre


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Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on May 8, 2013

It is important to understand that solar powered planes are basically artwork, designed to make a statement.  It is extremely unlikely that such a machine will somehow evolve into a practical form of transportation, and it will never replace fuel-hungry jet aircraft.

The laws of physics simply do not allow it.  The power required for flight increases with speed to the third power (V^3).  This means that weakly powered aircraft (e.g. solar or human powered) must travel very slowly (a couple dozen mph), and therefore must takeoff and land when winds are very calm to avoid crashing in a gust.  Completely wrong for human transport.

The one application that has been suggested that might work is for long-duration unmanned aerial vehicles.  There was some government funded work on this a few years ago, but nothing ever made it to market.

Gliders are much more practicle (for manned sport) aircraft, and they are indirectly solar powered.  They are carried aloft by rising air currents, which are caused by the suns heat on the Earth.

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