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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube 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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid