Written by Taylor Johaneman, ESLLC 2015-2016
On Saturday, around midnight, an airplane landed in California to complete it’s 62-hour journey from Hawaii. Why did this normally short flight take 62 hours, you might ask? This flight took so long because it isn’t your traditional Boeing 747; the plane is a solar-powered plane that travels at the same speed of a car, and is making history.
The idea of an airplane that is only powered by the sun’s energy, and uses no fuel at all, was first introduced by Swiss explorer and psychiatrist Bertrand Piccard 17 years ago. It’s taken several years and many impressive engineering feats to get this project, Solar Impulse, off the ground. Amazingly, it’s first flight took place on December 3, 2009, and it has continued to fly around the world ever since.
Solar Impulse has been persistently setting impressive goals and surpassing them. While trying to meet these goals, they have run into problems with the plane quite frequently, such as interferences with weather and overheating batteries. These issues have delayed flights, but haven’t stopped Solar Impulse from working towards it’s ultimate goal: circumnavigating the Earth in a plane only using solar power.
The project’s goal of flying around the world in their latest aircraft, Solar Impulse 2, started in March 2015 in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates . Their goal was to get back to Abu Dhabi by August of 2015, but they were ran into a few issues that delayed their multi-stage journey. After recently landing in California, they are hoping to get back to Abu Dhabi soon.