Solar plane lands in Arizona, 1st leg of major trip - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Solar plane lands in Arizona, 1st leg of major trip

Posted: Updated:
Solar Impulse co-founder, pilot and CEO Andre Borschberg, left, greets pilot Bertrand Piccard at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, early Saturday, May 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Scuteri) Solar Impulse co-founder, pilot and CEO Andre Borschberg, left, greets pilot Bertrand Piccard at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, early Saturday, May 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Scuteri)

By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN and BOB SEAVEY
Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) - Alone in the single-seat cockpit and high above the American Southwest, pilot Bertrand Piccard could hear only his plane's gear box and the quiet whine of four electric motors. No noisy jet engines.

He's flying Solar Impulse, considered the world's most advanced sun-powered plane.

Piccard piloted the craft for 20 hours, first cruising along the California coast after taking off from Moffett Field in Mountain View near San Francisco just after dawn Friday. He passed over Edwards Air Force Base, where other aviation milestones have been made, and then touched down early Saturday morning at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

He landed having used only three-quarters of the plane's battery power.

"It's a little bit like being in a dream," Piccard said as he stepped on the tarmac.

The plane's creators, Piccard and fellow pilot Andre Borschberg, said the trip is the first attempt by a solar airplane capable of flying day and night without fuel to fly across America.

But Piccard said Saturday afternoon that even more important than marking another aviation milestone is the hope that the journey will provide an exponential boost for interest in renewable energy and clean technologies.

"If an airplane can fly day or night with no fuel, just on the sun's power, of course it means that everybody in daily life can use this technology for his house, for heating and cooling systems, for lighting, for cars, for trucks. There's so much we can do now to have a cleaner future," Piccard said.

From Phoenix, the aircraft will travel to Dallas-Fort Worth airport in Texas, Lambert-St. Louis airport, Dulles airport in the Washington area and New York's John F. Kennedy airport. Each flight leg will take about 19 to 25 hours, with 10-day stops in each city.

Borschberg is hoping to pilot the last leg, which could afford him the chance to fly past the Statue of Liberty.

The plane, which has previously impressed audiences in Europe, is powered by about 12,000 photovoltaic cells that cover massive wings and charge its batteries.

The delicate, single-seat Solar Impulse flies around 40 mph and can't go through clouds. It weighs about as much as a car, making it vulnerable to bad weather.

Its average speed for the first leg of the trip was about 60 knots with a tail wind, Borschberg said. Ideally, the plane climbs up to about 27,000 feet or so during the day to collect solar and charge the batteries.

Borschberg and Piccard were ready for a series of tours over the next few days to show off the technology to Phoenix school children, university researchers and others.

"There are a lot of people who want to see this airplane," Piccard said.

So how hard is it to fly a solar plane?

Despite the aviation advancements made over the last century, Piccard said he and Borschberg have a lot in common with the early pioneers.

"One hundred years ago, the planes had to fly in good weather and there was only one person on board," Piccard said. "Now we have completely new technology, we fly with no fuel at all. But, of course, we need to fly in good weather and we carry only one pilot on board.

"We're starting a new cycle. It's really the beginning of something new."

___

Montoya Bryan reported from Albuquerque, N.M. Associated Press writer Haven Daley in Mountain View, Calif., also contributed to this report.

___

Online:

http://www.solarimpulse.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Birmingham Area NewsMore>>

  • UAB awarded $19.31 million to lead national study on chronic hypertension in pregnancy

    UAB awarded $19.31 million to lead national study on chronic hypertension in pregnancy

    Thursday, August 28 2014 3:57 PM EDT2014-08-28 19:57:27 GMT
    The University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Obstetrics and Gynecologyand the Department of Biostatisticshave been awarded a $19.31 million grant by the National Institutes of Health's Heart, Lung and Blood Institute .According to University Officials, The funding will go towards the most comprehensive study of chronic hypertension in pregnancy ever undertaken. The Chronic Hypertension and Pregnancy Project (CHAP) is a multicenter, randomized trial which will enroll between 4,700 and...More >>
    The University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Obstetrics and Gynecologyand the Department of Biostatisticshave been awarded a $19.31 million grant by the National Institutes of Health's Heart, Lung and Blood Institute .According to University Officials, The funding will go towards the most comprehensive study of chronic hypertension in pregnancy ever undertaken. The Chronic Hypertension and Pregnancy Project (CHAP) is a multicenter, randomized trial which will enroll between 4,700 and...More >>
  • Police officer, 2 others injured in 2-vehicle crash in downtown Birmingham

    Police officer, 2 others injured in 2-vehicle crash in downtown Birmingham

    Thursday, August 28 2014 11:25 AM EDT2014-08-28 15:25:12 GMT
    It happened near 3rd Avenue North and 11th Street North in Birmingham.More >>
    It happened near 3rd Avenue North and 11th Street North in Birmingham.
    More >>
  • Free will preparation

    Free will preparation

    Thursday, August 28 2014 9:06 AM EDT2014-08-28 13:06:47 GMT
    A nonprofit Birmingham law firm will prepare wills free of charge for those who qualify. Legal Services Alabama will do this at three libraries in the Magic City. More >>
    A nonprofit Birmingham law firm will prepare wills free of charge for those who qualify. Legal Services Alabama will do this at three libraries in the Magic City. More >>
  • Anniston - Gadsden Area NewsMore>>

  • Gadsden police arrest suspect in deadly stabbing case

    Gadsden police arrest suspect in deadly stabbing case

    Thursday, August 28 2014 11:37 AM EDT2014-08-28 15:37:31 GMT
    William D'Angelo McKinney (Photo: Etowah County Sheriff's Office)William D'Angelo McKinney (Photo: Etowah County Sheriff's Office)
    Investigators in Gadsden said a man strangled his ex-girlfriend Tuesday evening before stabbing another man to death. Officers arrested 30-year-old William D'Angelo McKinney Wednesday night. He faces charges for murder and domestic violence with strangulation. Police said McKinney went to his ex-girlfriend's home in the Mill Village area and let himself in. Investigators said she asked him to leave, but he shoved her and then put her in a headlock until she blacked out.More >>
    Investigators in Gadsden said a man strangled his ex-girlfriend Tuesday evening before stabbing another man to death. Officers arrested 30-year-old William D'Angelo McKinney Wednesday night. He faces charges for murder and domestic violence with strangulation. Police said McKinney went to his ex-girlfriend's home in the Mill Village area and let himself in. Investigators said she asked him to leave, but he shoved her and then put her in a headlock until she blacked out.More >>
  • Gadsden reelects Mayor Guyton, approves Sunday alcohol sales

    Gadsden reelects Mayor Guyton, approves Sunday alcohol sales

    Gadsden reelects Mayor Guyton, approves Sunday alcohol sales

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 8:55 AM EDT2014-08-27 12:55:56 GMT
    Gadsden's Mayor Sherman Guyton wins reelection with 56% of the votes. The city also voted in favor of Sunday alcohol sales with over a 2-1 ratio; 68% to 32%.More >>
    Gadsden's Mayor Sherman Guyton wins reelection with 56% of the votes. The city also voted in favor of Sunday alcohol sales with over a 2-1 ratio; 68% to 32%.More >>
  • Anniston police and fire departments downsized by proposed budget cuts

    Anniston police and fire departments downsized by proposed budget cuts

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 8:01 PM EDT2014-08-27 00:01:02 GMT
    The Anniston city manager's proposed budget for 2015 cuts more than $1.5-million in spending compared to this year. The police and fire chiefs are concerned about the cuts to public safety.More >>
    The Anniston city manager's proposed budget for 2015 cuts more than $1.5-million in spending compared to this year. The police and fire chiefs are concerned about the cuts to public safety.
    More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...