The world’s longest solar flight landed safely today. The solar plane, HB-SIA, dubbed Solar Impulse, completed a 26-hour test flight above Switzerland this morning and now holds the record for the longest solar-powered flight ever. However, what might be the coolest thing about the journey – the plane took off at night.
Solar Impulse took off from the Payerne airbase at 06:51 with André Borscherg, CEO and co-founder of the Solar Impulse project, at the controls. During the flight, the plane reached an altitude of more than 28,000 feet above sea level and reached speeds of 68 knots.
The plane features 12,000 solar panels built into its enormous 63.4 meter wing. It also holds 400-kilogram battery pack, which were fully charged during the plane’s decent.
“During the whole of the flight, I just sat there and watched the battery charge level rise and rise! Sitting in a plane producing more energy than it consumes is a fantastic feeling,” said André Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of the Solar Impulse project from the cockpit.
Bertrand Piccard, Initiator and President of Solar Impulse added, “This is a highly symbolic moment: flying by night using solely solar power is a stunning manifestation of the potential that clean technologies offer today to reduce the dependency of our society on fossil fuels!”
This test flight is a precursor to the real goal of flying around the globe using only solar power and not a drop of fuel. You can follow the journey at www.solarimpulse.com.