Solar Impulse finished its journey across the US this past weekend, but not without some drama. The crew discovered a 2.5 meter-long tear in the left wing during the last leg of the flight. There was no danger to pilot Andre Borschberg or the plane itself, but the damage did force the crew to land the craft early.
I love the calm way the Solar Impulse team described their thought process during the incident on the project website ( http://www.solarimpulse.com/en/#7195):
"It obliged the team to envisage all the possible scenarios, including bailing out over the Atlantic."
They envisaged all possible scenarios. I would have envisaged a freakout.
I guess that's why my Solar Impulse flight jacket got lost in the mail.:-)
It was a breathtaking end to a trip that started two months ago in San Francisco. That's when Solar Impulse took off from Moffitt Airfield, beginning a journey that would see stops in Phoenix, Dallas, St Louis, Washington DC and finally NYC. According to the Solar Impulse website, the plane racked up 3511 miles (about 5650 km), at an average speed of 28.8 knots in 105 hours and 41 minutes.
The Solar Impulse project was fabulous by default (sci-fi-looking plane, dashing pilots). But it was more: it showed that the impossible was possible. It was the first time a solar-powered craft crossed the US.
Think about that.
Remember when the first test-tube baby was born and it was big news? Now it's a known medical procedure. Hopefully in 20 years, using solar power will be old hat.
Until then, I'll keep my eye on Solar Impulse as the crew prepares for its next milestone: an around-the-world flight in 2015.
And I'll also keep my eye out for my Solar Impulse flight jacket.:-)
Image: © Solar Impulse |Merz| Rezo.ch
Category: Sustainable energy: Solar
Location: United States