Around the world in solar-powered plane
Posted on Apr 13 2014 | IANS
London, April 13 : The dream of flying around the world on solar power got a step up as Switzerland unveiled a futuristic solar-powered flying machine.
Pilots Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard revealed the futuristic flying machine in a ceremony in the city of Payerne.
"Today, we are one step closer to our dream of flying around the world on solar power," Piccard said.
"When Solar Impulse was born 12 years ago, and we could show the enormous wings and the light weight of its structure on computer designs, all the specialists in the world of aviation started to laugh," he said.
"Today, this airplane exists. It's the most incredible airplane of its time. It can fly with no fuel, day and night, and we hope that we can make it go around the world," Piccard said.
Last year, Borschberg and Piccard flew a first-generation prototype of the Solar Impulse plane on a record-setting coast-to-coast flight across the US.
The journey from California to New York took two months, and included five planned stops. Solar Impulse ended its cross-country flight in New York City, touching down at John F. Kennedy International Airport July 6, 2013.
The Solar Impulse planes are the first to be able to fly day and night without any on-board fuel.
The ultra-lightweight planes are powered entirely by solar panels and batteries, which charge during the day to allow the plane to fly even when the sun goes down.
Solar Impulse II will undergo a series of test flights in May, followed by training flights over Switzerland, officials said.