Technology has allowed the human race to evolve and explore the world, as well as the universe, in ways that our ancestors couldn't even dream of. Now, the first solar-power plane has taken to the airways to fly across the Pacific. As time goes on, technology evolves, allowing different solutions to different problems to hopefully better the world.
Airplanes have played a major part in connecting parts of the world that might have once never interacted before. Now, a project that could make a major difference on flight has finally hit the air.
For 12 years, the idea of a solar-powered plane was simply just an idea. Earlier this week, this idea became a reality with the sun-powered Solar Impulse 2 finally taking to the skies for its first flight across the Pacific Ocean.
The Solar Impulse 2 is a single seat plane with a wingspan larger than a Boeing 747. The plane's power is provided by the solar panels covering the wings which give a charge to batteries that fuel the 17.4 horsepower motors. Ideal charging conditions are during the day while the plane flies at 30,000 feet. Night time flying has the plane flying at 5,000 feet, where a significant amount of the distance is covered.
Swiss pilots André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard initially began the plane's journey around the world in March of this year but had not been in the air since May 30, heading from Nanjing, China towards Honolulu. The plane was grounded soon after when a cold front and other bad weather created problematic conditions for flight. Last Sunday was the first clear opportunity for the plane to take off.
Despite initial technical issues, everything has been going according to plan. According to co-pilot Piccard, who has been keeping track of Borschberg's progress from the ground, the pilot is tired but is in good spirits.
"It's absolutely fantastic," Piccard said of the plane's current success. "That was my dream, that was my vision and now it works."
Piccard remains optimistic for the plane's completed mission and works with Borschberg to change strategies as issues arise. The trip should take approximately five days and Borschberg is currently in the 4th day of flying the plane across the Pacific.
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