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Travel News: Solar Plane Takes Clean Flight Across the Pacific

Photos from @solarimpulse

The top story in travel news last week was that a solar powered plane started a journey around the world. Swiss explorer and psychiatrist and co-founder, Bertrand Piccard, was the pilot of the Solar Impulse 2. The solar powered plane is one of the first of its kind and it left Oahu, Hawaii on Thursday and touched down in San Francisco, California just after midnight on Sunday morning.

The trip across the Pacific Ocean took nearly two and a half days, about 62 hours traveling in the air. The reason for the long flight aboard the Solar Impulse 2 is because the plane travels at about the same speed as a car. The plane has a long wingspan, about the same as a Boeing 747. The span of the wings is necessary for there to be enough surface area for solar panels to power the plane. With it’s little cabin (body) and large wings, the plane is described as a giant, hi-tech butterfly.

Perfect conditions are needed in order for the plane to fly. Not surprisingly, the sun is the biggest factor and it determines when the plane will take flight. The cabin is about the same size as an SUV and its weight is comparable, coming in at 3,527 pounds. High winds and the possibility of turbulence and precipitation are all conditions to take into account when trips are being scheduled. The minimal weight of the plane makes it easy for to get tossed off the route and its high-tech equipment is not ideal for extreme weather conditions.

The adventure of the Solar Impulse started back in 2015 when Bertrand Piccard and André

Borschberg, co-founders, set off from Abu Dhabi to Hawaii. The team encountered technical and human operation challenges that have never been faced before, setting them back and delaying their flight from Hawaii to California. The Solar Impulse 2 has already received recognition for the longest solo solar flight in aviation history. The plane also broke world records when it became the first solar flight to travel through the night, between two continents, and across the United States. The two co-founders plan to travel across the world in 2016 with no fuel in order to promote renewable energies and energy efficiency for an improved quality of life. At Solar Impulse everyone believes in “…exploration and innovation to make a contribution to the cause of renewable energies. We want to demonstrate the importance of clean technologies for sustainable development; and to place dreams and emotions back at the heart of scientific adventure.”

We also believe with all the advancements in science and technology that a cleaner way to travel is a realistic goal.

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