Solar Impulse 2 Leaves JFK For Spain

At 2:30 am on June 20, Solar Impulse 2 took off from JFK airport in New York and headed out over the Atlantic Ocean on its way to Seville, Spain. The solar powered airplane left Abu Dhabi last March on a journey that will take it around entire globe on nothing but solar energy. Its mission it to promote clean energy alternatives to fossil fuels.

Solar Impulse 2 solar powered plane heads east from NYC

Previously, Solar Impulse 2 competed a journey across the Pacific from Japan to Hawaii. That segment of the flight took nearly 5 days and shattered the record for the longest continuous flight by an aircraft in history. The flight was so long, it caused damage to the planes batteries. The decision was made to winter over in Hawaii so that repairs could be made. Also, in springtime, the days are longer, which allows the planes 17,000 solar cells to store up more energy.

Solar Impulse 2 weighs as much as typical automobile at 3,200 lbs, but it has the wingspan of a Boeing 747. It cruises at a sedate 30 miles per hour, although it can go almost twice as fast on a bright sunny day when its wings are harvesting the maximum amount of solar power.

Today’s flight was initiated by Prince Albert of Monaco, who is a patron of the project. He gave the OK from mission control in Monaco when he told the pilot, Bertrand Piccard, “You are released to proceed.” Piccard is sharing piloting duties with Andre Borschberg. “I’m in the cockpit this time, but we’re flying together,” Piccard told Borschberg before takeoff. Soon after Solar Impulse 2 departed from JFK, Piccard tweeted:

About an hour later, he tweeted again.

The final leg of the journey will see Solar Impulse 2 complete its round the world adventure by flying from Spain across the Mediterranean to its point of origin in Abu Dhabi later this month.

Piccard is familiar with the challenge of extreme adventures. He is the first person to ever circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon, a feat he accomplished in 1999. Borschberg is also familiar with risks. He narrowly escaped an avalanche 15 years ago and in 2013 survived a helicopter crash with only minor injuries.

Just as the Wright Brothers introduced the world to the possibility of human flight, Piccard and Borschberg intend their solar flight to raise awareness of the power of renewable energy. The world is getting closer to the tipping point when clean electric power begins to take the place of fossil fuels. These two men are doing everything they can to bring that scenario closer to reality.

Source: The Guardian  Photo credit:


Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.