News / Europe

Solar-Powered Plane Makes Aviation History


An experimental solar-powered plane has made aviation history by becoming the first manned aircraft to fly throughout the night with no fuel.  The Swiss-made aircraft has defied all predictions by landing safely after more than 26 hours in the air on nothing but batteries powered by the sun.  

Pilot, Andre Borschberg, is a big man.  He emerges from his bathtub-sized cockpit to a hero's welcome.  He has just pulled off an historic feat.  He has just flown 26 hours, nine minutes and 33 seconds proving that an airplane can fly through the night on solar energy alone.  

He is understandably jubilant.

"So many things happened since yesterday," he explains. "And, everything went very well.  It is really unbelievable.  So, we did better and more than what we expected to do and what we wanted to do.  So, it is really a success." 


What was his goal?

Borschberg started his historic flight aiming to prove the Solar Impulse plane could stay in the air nonstop for 25 hours.  He says he has exceeded his expectations.

"It is so important because-that is the most important milestone of the project to demonstrate that it is feasible," he says. "It is feasible to fly day and night, which means that this technology can be used to save energy, to produce energy.  That is exactly what we wanted to show."  

Borschberg says the Solar Impulse Team discussed the possibility of extending the flight, but decided to stop because there was nothing left to prove.  

Achievements made

Indeed, the plane ended its voyage with more power in its 12,000 solar cells than when it had begun.

The solar airplane has an enormous 63-meter wingspan.  It is as wide as a jumbo jet, but weighs only 1.6 tons, the same as a mid-sized family car.  The solar cells collect the energy of the sun's rays.   The propeller driven plane travels a relatively slow 70 kilometers per hour.

The Solar Impulse team's co-founder, adventurer Bertrand Piccard says the flight shows it is possible to achieve impossible things.

"It is time to use this success in the economical and in the political world to demonstrate even more that if we want a sustainable economy, if we want a sustainable world, if we want profitable companies, if we want to create jobs in the future we have to implement this clean tech,"  he says.

Future outlook

Piccard says new technologies such as this can help the world rid itself of its dependency on fossil fuel.  He says alternative energies can help save energy and save natural resources.  

The Solar Impulse team says the success of the flight shows it is possible to keep a solar-powered plane in perpetual motion.  It proves a plane can be kept in the air continually around the clock.

They say they plan to test this hypothesis by building a new, more advanced model of the plane, which they aim to fly around the world by 2013.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Kurdish service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs