Solar-powered plane lands in Washington

Last Updated: Sunday, June 16, 2013 - 20:40

Washington: The single seater Solar Impulse plane, attempting a record-breaking trip across the US, made a smooth landing here today, leaving it with just one more hop to go in its cross-continent journey.

The Swiss-made 63-meter-wide aircraft set down at Dulles International Airport at O4:15 GMT, with Solar Impulse chairman Bertrand Piccard at the controls.

The trip from Cincinnati Lunken Municipal Airport took more than 10 hours, an hour and a half longer than it would have taken to drive.

Solar Impulse is designed to demonstrate how solar power alone can take a plane across the country, and eventually around the world, `NBC News` reported.

Although this trip didn`t set any speed records, it did include a first-ever overnight "pit stop."

"For the first time, the solar airplane was able to enjoy a starry night under the watchful eyes of its bodyguard, the ground crew," the Solar Impulse team said.

Yesterday`s departure was delayed more than two hours due to fog at the Cincinnati airport. The condensation on Solar Impulse`s wings, which double as solar arrays, were laboriously wiped off by the crew before the plane`s takeoff.

Solar Impulse`s "Across America" adventure is aimed at highlighting the plane`s technologies and preparing the way for an even more ambitious round-the-world odyssey in 2015.

The carbon-composite plane has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 jet but is as light as a passenger car. The plane`s power is generated by the 12,000 solar cells mounted on the wings and horizontal stabiliser, the report said.

According to Piccard, the Solar Impulse`s technologies could go commercial within the next five years.

The plane`s American voyage officially began on May 3 with Solar Impulse`s takeoff from Moffett Field in California, and continued with several stopovers.

The journey is expected to end with a Washington-to-New York flight in early July.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, June 16, 2013 - 20:40

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