Solar Impulse 2 is a rare innovation in the solar plane technology. The Swiss-made plane only uses power from the sun to run its engine. The 21st-century invention began in 2002, and it is estimated to cost $100 million. The innovation was geared towards highlighting the importance of renewable energy sources like solar power. The plane has wings which stretch wider than those of Boeing 747. The plane has 17000 power cells that power its propellers and charge its batteries. At night, the plane runs on stored energy.
The Swiss solar plane took off from California to Arizona on Monday 5 am. This is the latest leg of its journey in its quest to circumnavigate the world by use of solar energy. The Solar Impulse 2 took off from Mountain View, for a 16-hour flight to Phoenix. The flight crew is led by a Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg. He has been the lead pilot for the plane since last year when they began their journey around the globe. Before its departure from California to Arizona, the Solar Impulse 2’s co-pilot Bertrand Piccard, also a Swiss national had made a three-day trip to Hawaii before landing to the heart of Silicon Valley last week.
After its trip to Phoenix, the plane will make two more stop over’s in the United States. Thereafter, it will proceed to cross the Atlantic to Europe or North Africa. This is according to the website documenting the itinerary of the Solar Impulse 2. According to the flying crew, the riskiest part of the journey was to cross the Pacific. This is because of lack of emergency landing points in case the plane experienced technicalities.
While flying from Japan to Hawaii, Borschberg 63, who piloted the plane for five days kept himself alert by doing Yoga poses. Also, he was meditating upon the incredible invention that solar plane technology has achieved. He stated that it was feasible to fly for many days and nights and that the technology works perfectly. However, while on their trip to Japan, they were forced to stay for nine months at Oahu after the battery sustained heat damage.
The single seat plane started its voyage in March 2015. It started from Abu Dhabi the United Arab Emirates capital. The plane made stops in Oman, Myanmar, China, and Japan. The stop over’s enabled the pilots switch positions. Also, it gave them a chance to engage with the local communities along the way. In their engagement, they explained more about the project, its objectives and the cost of the project.
During their world tour, they will have an opportunity to promote the” Future is Clean campaign”. It is a campaign by Piccard and Borschberg to encourage the use of clean technologies. Using clean technologies could reduce global energy consumption by 50 percent. The project will be completed in 12 legs. Piccard is sharing the flying duties with his business partner Andre Borschberg.
Solar Impulse 2 has set two world records; it is the first manned panel so far in the journey. The first record was the longest distance covered on a single trip. Secondly, it has recorded the highest ground speed of 117 knots which is approximately 216 km/h or 135mph. Solar Impulse 2 has set history as the first solar power plane to ever fly around the world.