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Solar-Powered Plane HB-SIA Takes off from Washington, Heads to New York


solar-impulse-takeoff-washingtonSolar Impulse (HB-SIA), the world’s first solar powered airplane has just departed Washington for New York after performing the first historic flight across the United States. Having taken off in San Francisco, CA, the HB-SIA will land on New York’s John F. Kennedy airport after an estimated 21 hours of flight.

The trip of the Solar Impulse, piloted by Andre Borschberg, who co-founded the company with Bertrand Piccard (remember Star Trek?)

Having the wingspan of an Airbus A340, the Solar Impulse weighs only 1.6 tons, versus the 370 tons of the Airbus. Nearly 12,000 solar cells cover the plane’s wing and stabilizer. During night flights, power is taken from the 880-pound lithium ion battery.

During the flight across America, the Solar Impulse stopped in Phoenix, AZ, Dallas, TX and St. Louis, MO.

The flight had been rerouted via Cincinnati in the last minute because of the high winds and air traffic. “It was difficult to find all these ‘weather windows’ in the States – especially this last one,” Mr Borscherg told BBC News prior to the flight.

However, the round-the-world trip they’ll be taking in 2015 will be “many times more complex than what we did here in the US.” Organizing an intercontinental flight with an experimental airplane is challenging, and “the unpredictable side of the project requires a lot of preparation.”

Even Google set up a special page dedicated to the flight and featured the even on their very first page  for everyone to see it.

Funny thing, though, about this page: at the end of it, you’ll see the most amazing sentence I’ve seen lately: “Here’s to the explorers.”

This sentence reminds of that 1997 Apple ad “Here’s to the crazy ones – the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things – they push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world – are the ones who do.”

I wrote this entire text above from memory – it’s an honorable gesture that Google chose Apple-esque words for Piccard and Borschberg on their first solar-powered flight across the U.S..

You can even watch the whole event live, right here: 

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