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Solar-Powered Plane Preps for Round the World Journey

Today (Jan. 20) the Solar Impulse team unveiled their plans for circumnavigating the globe on a 35,000 kilometer (21,748 mile) trip, a journey which they will begin at the end of March when they take off from Abu Dhabi. As the first solar-powered plane to fly around the globe, the team will follow in the footsteps of aviators like Charles Lindbergh and Emilia Earhart. Like them, Solar Impulse will be flying much slower than today’s contemporary prop planes and jets.

“Solar Impulse is not the first solar airplane, however it is the first able to cross oceans and continents—remaining in the air for several days and nights in a row without landing” said André Borschberg, Solar Impulse co-founder and CEO. “We have to ensure the sustainability of the pilot in order to complete the route; Solar Impulse 2 must accomplish what no other plane in the history of aviation has achieved—flying without fuel for 5 consecutive days and nights with only one pilot in the unpressurized cockpit.”

Solar Powered Plane Confrence

Both Borschberg and co-founder and Chairman Bertrand Piccard will pilot the plane around the clock, relying on its solar-charged batteries and descending from higher altitudes reached during the day. When on land it will stop at 12 designated sites. Though the trip will require about 25 days of flights, during which the plane will be powered purely by the sun, the entire journey will take 5 months because of all the stops.

In the U.S., for instance, the plane will cross the Pacific, landing in Hawaii, then Phoenix, followed by a midwest location—based on weather conditions, and will land at New York City’s JFK airport.

“With our attempt to complete the first solar powered round-the-world flight, we want to demonstrate that clean technology and renewable energy can achieve the impossible,” Piccard said. “We want youth, leaders, organizations and policymakers to understand that what Solar Impulse can achieve in the air, everyone can accomplish here on the ground in their everyday lives.”

These guys have been at it for years. They've been testing Solar Impulse 2 for the past year, prior to that they were flying the first Solar Impulse plane. The second one is larger and more efficient. Already they’ve flown the plane across the U.S. and parts of Europe. Now they are ready to go worldwide.

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