Solar Plane Flies at Night

An experimental aircraft using 12,000 solar panels and 210 foot wings flew for 26 hours under its own power. The single seat plane averaged 26 miles per hour. When sunlight is available, the many solar panels produce electricity, which is stored in lithium batteries. The batteries power the plane at night so it can fly continuously for long periods. Ultimately, the goal is to fly nonstop around the world using only solar power.

Solar Impulse is the organization behind the plane’s design and operation. Co-founder of Solar Impulse André Borschberg flew the plane. He said, “During the whole of the flight, I just sat there and watched the battery charge level rise and rise! Sitting in a plane producing more energy than it consumes is a fantastic feeling.”

Video of a Solar Impulse Takeoff

During its successful flight, the plane ascended to about 9,000 meters. The top speed was 75 mph.  Flying the plane across the Atlantic Ocean will be the next challenge. If that goes well, a trip around the world will begin in about 2013. That trip will be conducted in a second plane that is currently under construction.

Charles Lindbergh achieved the first nonstop, fixed-wing, solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927. He covered a distance of over 3,000 miles in about 33 hours.

In 1910 an American journalist tried to cross the Atlantic in a dirigible. He only went about 1,000 miles, due to a storm.

Image Credit:  Solar Impulse

45 comments

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton3 years ago

Thanks.

Cody Lupardus
Cody Lupardus4 years ago

Good job.

Kay O.
Kay O.5 years ago

We need fleets of these! And I hope it happens.

Theo Roropoulos
Theo Roropoulos5 years ago

way to go

Beng Kiat Low
low beng kiat5 years ago

thanks.

Doris Korman
Doris Korman5 years ago

thanks

Linus Schönnings
Linus Schonnings5 years ago

wow, thanks for sharing

Janice D.
Past Member 6 years ago

Very nice...


dog ear problems

Mark N.
Mark Nolan6 years ago

Very impressive, a step in the right direction.

Andrew Merlin
Andrew Merlin6 years ago

cool!