Crazy-Looking Solar Powered Plane Completes First Leg Of Tour

Illustration for article titled Crazy-Looking Solar Powered Plane Completes First Leg Of Tour

The Solar Impulse, a one-person plane powered only by the light emanating from the sun, has completed the first leg of a nationwide journey after it landed in Phoenix, Arizona today.


The more than 18-hour flight only took it from California further down into the southwest, but that's mostly due to the plane's 40 mph top speed. Not exactly the Concorde, this thing is. It won't need to worry about fuel, however, as it's already proven it can go for more than 24 hours at a time.


As you can see in the video below, it looks like a bit of an alien craft as it comes in for a landing, with only a quiet "ooo-eee-ooo-eee" coming from up above:

The Solar Impulse is powered by f0ur electric motors, putting out about 10 horsepower each, which is not many. Though you wouldn't need that much, as the whole thing weighs about as much as a small car but has a similar wingspan to an Airbus A340.

Pilot Betrand Piccard, who also holds the record for the first person to circumnavigate the globe non-stop in a balloon, was at the controls for this stretch. Fellow pilot André Borschberg will take the helm for the next stretch, to Dallas, Texas. The plane will continue in this fashion, hopping around to St. Louis, Missouri, and Washington, DC, before finally landing at JFK Airport here in New York.

As this journey is meant to promote environmental awareness, the plane will be stopped for ten days in each city. I feel more environmentally aware just looking at it, don't you?


Photo credit: AP

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


Interesting that the four motor aircraft (FORTY HORSEPOWER FTW!!!) lands with only the two inboard motors operating. The outer pair appear to be shut down in the video around when it passes overhead.

I suppose when you have that big of a wingspan, it's just how to slow down enough to descend. That and being electric motors rather than internal combustion engines (or worse, jets), the lag between fully off and fully on is effectively zero.