June 13, 2013
Across America 2013: Solar Impulse Team To Incorporate New Flight Strategy On Next Leg
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Challenging weather will force Borschberg, who is taking the helm for the fourth leg of the mission, to land briefly in Cincinnati on the route to Washington DC to complete leg four of the 2013 mission. Once in Cincinnati, Borschberg will relinquish command of the zero-fuel airplane to Piccard, who will resume the flight onward to the nation´s capital.
The fourth leg is scheduled to lift off Friday morning, June 14, from St. Louis, Missouri. The flight must be split in two because strong head winds will slow the aircraft to the point that it will be impossible for Borschberg to complete the flight in less than 24 hours, the limit set for a pilot in the single-seat cockpit of the HB-SIA prototype.
Borschberg will fly to Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport, where Piccard will be waiting to step into the role of relief pilot. He will pilot the plane to Washington DC Dulles International Airport, which is currently scheduled to land sometime in the wee hours of June 16, more than 36 hours after initial take-off.
The team said the flight will be difficult as the strong winds are expected to cause the plane to drift sideways through most of the flight. The plane will also encounter heavy air traffic and must make a high-altitude pass over the Appalachian Mountains.
After landing in Washington DC, the crew plan to set up a public viewing for the aircraft on Sunday at the National Air and Space Museum´s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. They also plan to meet Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz on Monday during a press conference.
Washington DC is a strategic choice for spreading the Solar Impulse message about the importance of promoting clean technologies. Along with the Across America 2013 project, the Solar Impulse team is also promoting Clean Generation, a global movement supported by thousands of people across America and around the world.
Those who have signed up for the Clean Generation initiative are being flown on the Across America mission on a USB stick in the cockpit of the airplane as virtual passengers.
The Solar Impulse team is also scheduling a live Google Hangout in the air as part of the Google Science Fair. The Hangout will be available a few hours after lift-off on Friday.
The flight schedule is as follows: Take-off Friday June 14 at 5:00 a.m. EDT from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport heading northeast toward South Illinois. The plane should fly over Terre Haute, Indiana around 11:00 a.m. EDT, pass 25 miles south of Indianapolis at 12:30 p.m. EDT and fly over Kentucky by 3:00 p.m. EDT. The plane should land in Cincinnati, Ohio at around 9:00 p.m. EDT.
Although the flight has been confirmed, the flight director may still decide to postpone or alter the route shortly before take-off. Stay tuned for further updates.