The Solar Impulse, flying from Phoenix to Dallas this week, set an absolute distance world record for solar-powered aviation.
The departure from Phoenix was picture perfect. After a blessing from the Apache Spiritual Leader and the well-timed assistance of their ground crew, Solar Impulse lifted off so quickly it seemed nearly impossible. For those of us who followed this leg of Solar Impulse’s journey, it was deeply moving to see this craft soar into the dark morning skies. As it gained altitude, the skies lightened and, at some point, André reached the “point of no return.” We knew then that the record-breaking attempt was securely underway. Thanks to CleanTechnica for embedding the live feed into the article, we were able to quickly check in during the long day. The following is from the Solar Impulse team:
Solar Impulse, the solar-powered airplane of Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, successfully landed in Dallas-Fort Worth on Thursday, May 23 completing its longest leg of the 2013 Across America mission and setting a new absolute world distance record in solar aviation (832 NM/ 1’541 km). The previous distance record was also established in Solar Impulse when André Borschberg flew 602 NM (1’116 km) from Switzerland to Spain in May 2012. The record is now to be submitted to the National Aeronautics Association before it is ultimately awarded by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI).
The flight originated Wednesday, May 22 at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport when André Borschberg took off at 04:47 a.m. MST (Arizona time). After 18 hours and 21 minutes in the air, he landed the Solar Impulse prototype at 01:08 a.m. CDT Thursday at Dallas- Fort Worth International Airport. This is the second of five legs Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will alternately fly from California’s Bay Area to New York City.
“This leg was particularly challenging because of fairly strong winds at the landing. It also was the longest flight – in terms of distance – ever flown by a solar airplane. You have to understand that the pilot needs to stay awake for more than 20 hours without any autopilot” said André Borschberg, co-founder, CEO and pilot of Solar Impulse who still holds the record for the longest duration ever in a solar powered airplane with 26 hours.
“It was exciting to have on board the list of the thousands of friends who support us in our goal of promoting the use of clean technologies worldwide. We are now looking forward to hand over our second Clean Generation flag to the Texan authorities on behalf of all our supporters. The first flag was given to the Governor of Arizona Jan Brewer.” added Bertrand Piccard, initiator and chairman of Solar Impulse shortly after André’s landing.
Five custom-designed flags displaying the Clean Generation slogan are carried by the pilots and handed over to civic leaders at each stop. To help bring attention to the need for clean technologies, Piccard and Borschberg have launched the Clean Generation initiative. Solar Impulse has gained the support of thousands of influential people worldwide, including key opinion leaders such as Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and filmmaker James Cameron.
Solar Impulse is organizing a number of events at Dallas-Fort Worth, including a public, open house. The Friday public event was welcomed with a great success being sold out just a few hours after the opening. 1’200 people including 4 local schools will have the opportunity to visit the airplane. Because of this great success Solar Impulse and Dallas-Fort Worth teams worked to organize an additional open day which will take place on Saturday, May 25th from 11:00 AM to 05:00 PM. To register people should use the following link http://solarimpulseatdallasonsaturday.eventbrite.com/ or visit http://www.solarimpulse.com/.
Bertrand Piccard will fly with Solar Impulse to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for the third leg of its journey. The departure date will depend on weather conditions
Flight Report: Phoenix Sky Harbor – Dallas-Fort Worth
|Pilot:||André Borschberg, co-founder and CEO|
|Take-off time:||May 22, 2013 04:47 AM MST (UTC-7)|
|Time of landing:||May 23, 2013 01:08 AM CDT (UTC-5)|
|Flight duration:||18h21 min|
|Average ground speed:||84 km/h (45,3 kt)|
|Highest altitude reached:||8’230 m (27’000 feet)|
|Flight Distance:||1’541 km (832 NM)|
The “Across America” mission at a glance:
- Early May 2013: First leg San Francisco/Moffett Airfield – Phoenix/Sky Harbor
- Mid May 2013: Second leg Phoenix/Sky Harbor – Dallas/Fort Worth
- End May – Early June 2013: Third leg Dallas/Fort Worth – St. Louis/Lambert Airport
- Early to Mid-June 2013: Fourth leg St. Louis/Lambert Airport – Washington DC/Dulles
- Early July 2013: Fifth and last leg Washington DC/Dulles – New York/JFK
Author’s Note: André trained in December for this landing. The winds in Dallas could have been a hazard for the light airplane; however, he rehearsed the landing options many times with Bertrand during his 72-hour training. This preparation included staying awake for the entire 72 hours with 20 minute “naps” at specific times. The new world record is based on distance, not time, so André was able to land early thanks to the tail winds that assisted him. A later landing would have been more problematic because the surface winds were increasing in Dallas. When he turned on the landing lights, he was already very close to the runway and he set the plane down as though it was a feather. It was aviation perfection and pure joy to see. Watch the next leg of this historic journey here on CleanTechnica.