Across America 2013: Solar Impulse Sets World Record For Longest Zero-Fuel Flight
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
After an early morning take-off from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Wednesday May 22, Andre Borschberg completed a world record flight to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in his co-owned zero-fuel airplane.
The Solar Impulse team of Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard are on a five-leg journey from coast to coast taking turns flying their HB-SIA aircraft as they flea hop across the USA. On leg two of the journey, Borschberg took the helm and set an absolute world distance record in solar aviation by flying 832 nautical miles nonstop solely on the power of the sun. The new distance record soars past the old, also held by Borschberg, when he completed a 602-mile journey from Switzerland to Spain in 2012. The new record will be submitted to the National Aeronautics Association (NAA) and Swiss-based Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI).
Borschberg left Phoenix Sky Harbor at 4:47 a.m. (MDT) on Wednesday and landed at 1:08 a.m. (CDT) at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The flight, which took 18 hours and 21 minutes, was no small feat for a plane that has no autopilot and requires full attention throughout flight. Borschberg also holds the record for longest-durational flight in a solar-powered aircraft: 26 hours.
“This leg was particularly challenging because of fairly strong winds at the landing. It also was the longest flight — in terms of distance — ever flown by a solar airplane,” said Borschberg in an emailed statement.
Piccard, who was at the helm during the first leg of the Across America 2013 mission and will take over again for leg three, said in the email: “It was exciting to have on board the list of the thousands of friends who support us in our goal of promoting the use of clean technologies worldwide. We are now looking forward to hand over our second Clean Generation flag to the Texan authorities on behalf of all our supporters.”
The Clean Generation initiative, which is being run in conjunction with Across America 2013, is meant to help bring attention to the need for clean technologies. Piccard and Borschberg handed out the first of five flags to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer when Solar Impulse landed in Phoenix on May 4.
The Clean Generation initiative also includes support from thousands of people throughout the world, including key opinion leaders such as Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and filmmaker/explorer James Cameron. The names of Branson and Cameron, along with thousands of other supporters, are flying aboard the Solar Impulse along with Piccard and Borschberg on their journey. You can be a part of this historic journey as well by signing up on the Solar Impulse website.
Now that Solar Impulse is on the ground in Dallas-Fort Worth, a number of events will be planned, including a public open house. A public showing on Friday has already been sold out, with 1,200 people expected to be in attendance, including kids from four local schools. Because of the success of the project and the popularity among Americans, the Solar Impulse team is planning an additional open day for Saturday May 25 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. To register for this event people should go to: http://solarimpulseatdallasonsaturday.eventbrite.com/
Piccard will be at the helm when Solar Impulse returns to the sky, with sights set on Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for the third leg of Across America 2013. The departure date will depend on weather conditions, but will likely occur sometime within the next few weeks.