NANJING, CHINA — As reported by McClatchyDC, “It takes a Boeing 747 about 10 hours and 36,000 gallons of fuel to fly from eastern China to Hawaii. As soon as Tuesday, André Borschberg will attempt the same flight in a high-tech, sun-powered aircraft that resembles a dragonfly. He’ll do it over five days, without a drop of fuel.” How cool is this? It will take the solar powered plane 5 days to cross the Pacific, during which, the pilot will have to remain awake the entire time except for naps for 20 minutes or less.
Amazing Solar Powered Airplane To Fly China To Hawaii!
“No one before has attempted a solar-powered flight over such a large expanse of ocean – 5,070 miles. If bad weather or other problems force him to ditch his Solar Impulse plane, Borschberg will have only his wits and a life raft to save him.”
“Despite its size, the plane weighs only 5,071 pounds, about as much as a minivan. Much of that weight comes from the four batteries that sit behind four propellers. When the plane is in flight, those batteries are recharged by 17,248 feather-light solar cells on top of the wings. The batteries then help power the aircraft at night.”
“Flying the plane is complex. To husband its power, the pilot takes the aircraft as high as possible during the late daylight hours. Then, in the darkness, the plane’s engines are turned off and the aircraft sails like a glider, dropping slowly for about three hours. Then the engines are turned back on, drawing on the batteries until daybreak.”
“It is difficult to fly, especially at the beginning,” said Borschberg, a 62-year-old former fighter pilot with the Swiss air reserve. With its lightness and wide wingspan, the plane reacts slowly to a change in controls, making it easy for a pilot to overcompensate, he said.”
You can read the full article here as well as see a video and pictures of what the plane looks like.
This is definitely one flight that I will be paying attention to! What about you? What do you think?