After a successful flight, a solar-powered airplane that flew several hours after sundown landed in Phoenix, Arizona early Saturday morning, reports ABC News.
The Solar Impulse touched down at the Sky Harbor Airport, the first stop on a planned trip across the country, at about 12:30 a.m. local time after taking off from Moffett Field in Mountain View near San Francisco shortly after 6 a.m. The flight’s itinerary includes stops at Dallas-Fort Worth airport in Texas, Lambert-St. Louis airport, Dulles airport in the Washington area and finallyh, New York’s John F. Kennedy airport. The trip is the first attempt by solar plane to fly cross-country day and night without fuel.
“All the big pioneers of the 20th century have tried to fly coast to coast across America,” co-pilot and one of the plane’s founders, Piccard, said before the flight. “So now today we’re trying to do this, but on solar power with no fuel with the first airplane that is able to fly day and night just on solar power.”
The plane is covered with 12,000 photovoltaic cells that charge its batteries. It flies at 40 mph and can’t go through clouds because its light weight makes it vulnerable to bad weather.
The creators of the plane say solar planes will never replace fuel-powered commercial flights, but it shows the potential of solar power.
“What we look for is to have a new milestone in this very exciting history of aviation that can attract interest of the people, of the political world, of the media and show that with renewable energies and clean technology for energy efficiency, we can achieve impossible things,” Piccard said.