Solar Tribune

Solar plane begins cross-country flight


Solar Impulse, the photovoltaic solar powered plane from Swiss duo Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, will today depart from San Francisco on it’s cross-country tour.

This first flight, piloted by Bertrand Piccard, will depart from Moffett Field, NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View and arrive in Phoenix, Arizona after a 19 hour flight.

According to the Solar Impulse team, this trip is the first time that a fully solar-powered plane, capable of flying day and night without fuel, will attempt to fly across the U.S.

Solar Impulse test flight. Credit: Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse test flight. Credit: Solar Impulse

The plane has a wingspan of 208 feet and weighs just over 3,500 pounds – a lot less than conventional planes of a similar size. It is powered by 12,000 photovoltaic cells and batteries that conserve solar energy, to allow the plane to fly at night.

They’re also launching the “Clean Generation” Initiative to garner support for clean technologies, since this flight exemplifies the potential of solar power and other renewable technologies. The names of all the people who have supported the “Clean Generation” Initiative will be carried in the cockpit of the airplane as virtual passengers.

The next leg of the trip will be in mid May, from Phoenix to Dallas; the plane will then travel to St. Louis, Washington D.C. and New York City.

You can catch a live stream of the flight at

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