- Country singer Tim McGraw not sorry for slapping female fan: ‘Things happen’
- Iraq vet cited for owning 14 therapeutic pet ducks
- White House takes credit for drop in unaccompanied children at border
- International crises be damned, Obama’s fundraising trip must go on
- Friend of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev found guilty of impeding probe
- Train with MH17 plane crash bodies leaves rebel town in Ukraine
- Half of Colorado voters are OK with Hobby Lobby decision, poll shows
- HIV-killing condom to soon hit shelves in Australia
- Estonia pulls plug on Steven Seagal over praise for Putin
- Lawyer: Pelvic exam pics cost Hopkins $190 million
Solar plane lands in Phoenix after 1st leg of trip across U.S.
Question of the Day
PHOENIX (AP) — Alone in the single-seat cockpit and high above the American Southwest, pilot Bertrand Piccard could hear only his plane’s gear box and the quiet whine of four electric motors. No noisy jet engines.
He’s flying Solar Impulse, considered the world’s most advanced sun-powered plane.
Mr. Piccard piloted the craft for 20 hours, first cruising along the California coast after taking off from Moffett Field in Mountain View, near San Francisco, just after dawn Friday. He passed over Edwards Air Force Base, where other aviation milestones have been made, and then touched down early Saturday morning at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
He landed having used only three-quarters of the plane’s battery power.
“It’s a little bit like being in a dream,” Mr. Piccard said as he stepped on the tarmac.
But Mr. Piccard said Saturday afternoon that even more important than marking another aviation milestone is the hope that the journey will provide an exponential boost for interest in renewable energy and clean technologies.
“If an airplane can fly day or night with no fuel, just on the sun’s power, of course it means that everybody in daily life can use this technology for his house, for heating and cooling systems, for lighting, for cars, for trucks. There’s so much we can do now to have a cleaner future,” Mr. Piccard said.
From Phoenix, the aircraft will travel to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Each flight leg will take about 19 to 25 hours, with 10-day stops in each city.
Mr. Borschberg is hoping to pilot the last leg, which could afford him the chance to fly past the Statue of Liberty.
The plane, which previously impressed audiences in Europe, is powered by about 12,000 photovoltaic cells that cover massive wings and charge its batteries.
The delicate, single-seat Solar Impulse flies around 40 mph and can’t go through clouds. It weighs about as much as a car, making it vulnerable to bad weather.
Its average speed for the first leg of the trip was about 60 knots with a tail wind, Mr. Borschberg said. Ideally, the plane climbs up to about 27,000 feet or so during the day to collect solar energy and charge the batteries.
“There are a lot of people who want to see this airplane,” Mr. Piccard said.
So how hard is it to fly a solar plane?
“One hundred years ago, the planes had to fly in good weather, and there was only one person on board,” Mr. Piccard said. “Now we have completely new technology, we fly with no fuel at all. But, of course, we need to fly in good weather, and we carry only one pilot on board.
“We’re starting a new cycle. It’s really the beginning of something new.”
• Susan Montoya Bryan reported from Albuquerque, N.M. Associated Press writer Haven Daley in Mountain View, Calif., also contributed to this article.
TWT Video Picks
U.S. appetite for drugs begets violence migrants are fleeing
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- Jewish woman booted from JetBlue flight over fight with Palestinian
- Edward Snowden to work with Russia on anti-spy technology
- Rihanna, Dwight Howard delete #FreePalestine tweets
- YOUNG: A sinking presidency, deeper after November?
- PRUDEN: A deadly enemy within exacerbating immigration crisis
- MERRY: Handicaps in Hillary's way
- Driver who killed teen on bike sues family for $1.3 million
- Bill Maher blames Hamas for Gaza violence: 'Do you really expect the Israelis not to retaliate?'
- HUMPHRIES: 'Hes the Worst President in 70 Years'
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq