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Solar-Powered Plane in US Completes 10th Leg of Journey
People, Travel

Solar-Powered Plane in US Completes 10th Leg of Journey

A solar-powered airplane midway through a historic bid to circle the globe completed the tenth leg of its journey on Monday, landing in the US state of Arizona after a 16-hour flight from California, the project team said.
The Swiss team flying the aircraft in a campaign to build support for clean energy technologies hopes eventually to complete its circumnavigation in Abu Dhabi, where the journey began in March 2015.
The spindly, single-seat experimental aircraft, dubbed Solar Impulse 2, arrived in Phoenix shortly before 9 p.m., following a flight from San Francisco that took it over the Mojave Desert, Reuters reported.
The flight would have taken a conventional airplane just two hours, but the solar craft’s cruising speed, akin to that of a car, required pilots to take up meditation and hypnosis in training to stay alert for long periods.
Occupying the tiny cockpit for the trip was project co-founder Andre Borschberg, who alternates with fellow pilot Bertrand Piccard at the controls for each segment of what they hope will be the first round-the-world solar-powered flight.
Borschberg was the pilot for the Japan-to-Hawaii trip over the Pacific last July, staying airborne for nearly 118 hours.
That shattered the 76-hour world duration record for a non-stop, solo flight set in 2006 by the late American adventurer Steve Fossett in his Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer. It also set new duration and distance records for solar-powered flight.
Piccard completed the trans-Pacific crossing last month, reaching San Francisco after a flight of nearly three days, more than three times the 18 hours Amelia Earhart took to fly solo from Hawaii to California in the 1930s.
The biggest difference is that the propeller-driven Solar Impulse flies without a drop of fuel, its four engines powered solely by energy collected from more than 17,000 solar cells built into its wings.
Surplus power is stored in four batteries during the day, to keep the plane aloft on extreme long-distance flights.
The carbon-fiber plane, with a wingspan exceeding that of a Boeing 747 and the weight of a family car, can climb to 28,000 feet (8,500 m), and cruise at 55 to 100 km/h.
After Phoenix, the plane will make two more stops in the US before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Europe or northern Africa.

 

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