Across America 2013: Zero Fuel Airplane Lands Safely In Phoenix After First Leg
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Update (May 4, 8:00 a.m.)
After taking off from Moffett Field in Mountain View, California at 6:12 a.m. (PDT) on May 3, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA aircraft arrived at its destination in Phoenix, Arizona safely. The flight, which lasted 18 hours and 18 minutes, landed at 12:30 a.m. on May 4 at Phoenix´s Sky Harbor International Airport.
“We’ve been dreaming about crossing the United States for years — the land of scientific research, innovation and aviation pioneers — and it’s hard to believe it’s really happening.” said AndrÃ© Borschberg (Co-Founder, CEO and pilot of Solar Impulse) and Bertrand Piccard (Initiator, Chairman and pilot of Solar Impulse) shortly after the plane landed in Phoenix.
“We are thrilled to have safely and successfully completed this first leg and we weren’t alone: thousands of names of our supporters virtually accompanied us. With them, we launched the “Clean Generation” initiative promoting clean technologies,” they said in an emailed statement.
Now that the team is on the ground in Phoenix, a number of events will be organized including visits open to the public on Sunday May 5 and Tuesday May 7. People wishing to visit the secured site must register at http://solarimpulseatphoenixonsunday.eventbrite.com/ for Sunday. For those wishing to visit the site on Tuesday, they must register at http://solarimpulseatphoenixontuesday.eventbrite.com/.
Main Story (May 3 6:47 a.m.)
Across America 2013 begins today as Bertrand Piccard takes the helm of the HB-SIA Solar Impulse aircraft for the first leg of a two-month journey from San Francisco to New York City in a plane flown only by the power of the sun. The first flight from San Francisco to Phoenix, Arizona begins this morning with the plane expecting a take-off at around 9 a.m. EDT (6 a.m. PDT).
The Solar Impulse Across America 2013 project represents the first time in history a plane will attempt to fly across the United States both day and night using only the Sun to power the aircraft. The plane´s wings consist of 12,000 solar cells that soak up and hold energy, allowing the plane to fly under darkness. The craft, which has been dubbed the “zero fuel airplane,” has a wingspan of a 747 but only weighs about the same as an average mid-size car.
The team, consisting of Piccard and his friend and partner Andre Borschberg, are also using this opportunity to launch an initiative called “Clean Generation” gathering worldwide support for the adoption of green technologies.
This ambitious Across America mission shows the “enormous potential of clean technologies in terms of energy efficiency and renewable energy use. With this adventure, Solar Impulse wants to inspire and motivate as many people as possible to embrace the pioneering spirit that allowed this revolutionary solar-powered airplane to become a reality,” according to an emailed statement by the team.
Already, the “Clean Generation” Initiative has the support of thousands of people including actor/director/explorer James Cameron, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, entrepreneur Richard Branson and former vice president Al Gore, among others. The Initiative looks to encourage governments, businesses and legislators to find ways to adopt cleaner technologies and sustainable energy solutions.
The names of all those who are ambitiously supporting this cause will be a concrete part of the Across America 2013 mission, being carried in the cockpit of the HB-SIA as virtual passengers. The team expects more and more people will be added to this list at each stopover on the journey across the nation.
If you are interested in taking part in the “Clean Generation” Initiative and you can sign up at www.solarimpulse.com/join_us/.
For the first leg of the Across America 2013 mission, Piccard will take off from Moffett Field at NASA´s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California at approximately 6:00 a.m. PDT. The tentative flight route will take the plane over San Francisco, Fresno, Bakersfield, Palmdale and Barstow in California before heading on toward Arizona. The HB-SIA aircraft will then fly high above the Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park before landing at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport around 1:00 a.m. on May 4. The scheduled flight should last in the vicinity of 19 hours.
The Solar Impulse Across America 2013 mission is made possible by support from partners including Solvay, Schindler, Bayer Material Science, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, Sunpower and the Swiss Confederation.
Although the flight has been confirmed, the team may still need to make last minute adjustments and could postpone the flight shortly or alter the route before take-off.
The flight may be tracked on the Internet via computer and mobile connectivity and each leg of the journey will be streamed live on the Solar Impulse website as well as via Twitter and Facebook.