Across America 2013: Solar Impulse Prepares For Final Leg To New York

Lawrence LeBlond for – Your Universe Online

The Solar Impulse team of Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg are now preparing for the final flight of their HB-SIA zero-fuel airplane in the Across America 2013 campaign. Borschberg will take control of the solar-powered airplane for this final leg of the journey from Washington, DC to New York.

Borschberg is scheduled to take off from Washington Dulles International Airport on Saturday, July 6 at around 5:00 am EDT. The estimated landing time is 2:00 am at JFK International Airport on July 7. The NY landing will be the culmination of an epic journey that began in San Francisco, California on May 3.

The ambitious Across America 2013 journey was not only taken on to show off the capabilities of an airplane that can fly both day and night solely on the power of the sun’s energy, but also to inspire governments and the public to take a broader stance on clean technologies. During the Washington, DC layover, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz met with the Solar Impulse team. The highlights of the meeting were to emphasize how Solar Impulse aligns with four key DOE priorities: solar energy, energy storage, energy efficiency and advanced materials.

Along with the Across America 2013 campaign, Piccard and Borschberg promoted their Clean Generation initiative, offering specially designed flags at each of the key destinations throughout the mission. Clean Generation is also meant to inspire people to seek cleaner technologies and, to help promote the idea, all those who signed up for the initiative had a chance to ride in the Solar Impulse airplane as virtual passengers — their names being carried on a USB stick along with Piccard and Borshcberg during their flights.

The Solar Impulse team has also initiated a landing contest for New York City residents. The contest will allow 50 lucky persons the chance to greet the Solar Impulse team as it lands at JFK on the morning of July 7, completing the Across America 2013 project.

Google will also hold a live broadcast of the final flight on a dedicated Google page that will also include information about the final leg and the overall project, including links to Solar Impulse’s live broadcast and their YouTube channel.

A Google Hangout is also scheduled with the Solar Impulse pilots, moderated by Wired Mag’s Jason Paur. The Hangout will feature guests including Erik Lindbergh, the grandson of aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh.

The Solar Impulse team is also encouraging citizens to go out during the final flight and see if they can spot the plane as it passes overhead along key landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, scheduled at around 12:00 am, a few hours before touchdown at JFK. People can check out real-time location updates on the Solar Impulse webpage via their mobile devices and can even post pictures and videos on the group’s social media page.

Also, the Solar Impulse team will be carrying a special edition of the book ‘The Little Prince’ for the final leg of the journey. This is to help mark the 70th anniversary of the book’s publication in New York in 1943, which is linked to the history of aviation. The book is also being honored by the Antoine de Saint Exupery Youth Foundation.

Once the team lands in NY several events are scheduled to take place, including a press conference on Monday at noon at JFK, participation in the NASDAQ Opening Bell Ceremony and a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Tuesday, July 9.

But before all this occurs, the zero-fuel airplane must complete the final leg of the Across America 2013 mission. While the flight has been confirmed, mission operators said the schedule could change depending on weather conditions.

Tentatively, the final flight is scheduled to begin at 5:00 am on July 6, with Borschberg taking off from Washington Dulles International Airport in Washington DC. The plane should cross Chesapeake Bay at around 6:45 am and head toward Cambridge in Maryland. The plane should fly across Delaware Bay at around 8:00 am, crossing into New Jersey and following the coast toward Atlantic City.

At around 9:15 am, Borschberg should be in the proximity of Atlantic City before flying 11 miles offshore for a long holding pattern until 9:00 pm, when he will then return toward land to complete the flight. He will enter the Lower Bay at around 11:40 pm, fly over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and toward the Statue of Liberty around 12:00 am, and then on to Upper Bay, where he will hold until about 1:15 am.

Borschberg is expected to land the solar-powered aircraft at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York at 2:00 am on July 7.

Image Below: An itinerary map of the entire Across America 2013 campaign. Credit: Solar Impulse