Solar Impulse 2 continues its historic Flight Around the World, bringing a message of clean energy and sustainability to China.

Chongqing (China), March 31, 2015 – Attempting the First Round-The-World Solar Flight to inspire innovation and encourage the use of clean technologies, the solar powered airplane of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg successfully landed at the Chongqing Jiangbei International ...

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Chongqing (China), March 31, 2015 – Attempting the First Round-The-World Solar Flight to inspire innovation and encourage the use of clean technologies, the solar powered airplane of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg successfully landed at the Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport on Tuesday March 31st.

 

The airplane departed from Myanmar for the fifth leg of its epic circumnavigation on Monday March 30th at 3:36 am local time (9:06 pm GMT, [March 29]) with Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard in command. The first ever single-seater solar plane to enter China, Solar Impulse 2 landed in Chongqing 20 hours and 29 minutes later, having covered 1,459 kilometers. Flying above the mountainous Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan required the pilot to perform a steep climb at the beginning of the journey, and due to continuous flying at high altitude, the pilot had to wear an oxygen mask in the 3.8m3 unpressurized cockpit in which Bertrand Piccard faced temperatures descending to minus 20 degrees celsius. In addition, tackling strong low level winds in Chongqing made this flight one of  the most challenging to date
 

Jean-Jacques de Dardel, the Swiss Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, welcomed the Solar Impulse team at the airport alongside Mr. Ai Yang, Deputy Secretary General of Chongqing Municipal Government. During its stay in China, and on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Switzerland, the Solar Impulse team will honor the strong ties between both countries while organizing a series of events demonstrating that innovation is the key to sustainable development.  “Solar Impulse is an audacious adventure demonstrating typical Swiss innovative teamwork. I am glad it will henceforth  have a Chinese content” said Swiss Ambassador Jean-Jacques de Dardel.

 

While the Round-The-World is an ambitious scientific project and barrier-breaking adventure, it is also an illustration of the importance of moving the world towards a future centered around clean, renewable energy. A vision which is shared by Solar Impulse Chinese Host Partners, CAST (Chinese Association of Science and Technology) and Sina. Together they will organize visits and conferences for schools and universities to spread the message to the young generation. The key event, involving 1600 students, takes place in Chongqing today at the Bashu Secondary School.

 

“China has become number one in wind power and in solar panel production, and  if you look at how much efforts the Chinese government is making to increase the use of renewable energy to optimize the energy mix, there is no surprise that Solar Impulse is so well received in the country.” Said the pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, co-founders of Solar Impulse.

More than just a new record

While the Across America mission is well behind us and we are working on finishing the second prototype airplane HB SIB and preparing for the 2015 Around-the-World flights, there are still a few successes coming out of our American adventure.

Today the FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale / International ...

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While the Across America mission is well behind us and we are working on finishing the second prototype airplane HB SIB and preparing for the 2015 Around-the-World flights, there are still a few successes coming out of our American adventure.

Today the FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale / International Aviation Federation) ratified 3 new records for Solar Impulse. André’s flight from Phoenix to Dallas on May 23 2013 will go down in aviation history books for longest solar powered straight distance (1386.5 km), distance along a course, pre-declared waypoints (1487.6km) and free distance (1506.5km) flight.

Solar Impulse now holds a total of 8 FAI records in the category of solar aviation.

Just as important as achieving a "first ever", this particular flight was perhaps one of the hardest flights Solar Impulse has flown to date. You may recall that strong headwinds made it exceptionally challenging for the Pilot. André spent the day riding the updraft and downdraft of the mountain winds. The landing itself was an aeronautical feat as André literally had to “crab crawl” Solar Impulse sideways to position the airplane for landing.

I have witnessed practically every take off and landing of Solar Impulse but this one still brings shivers down my spine as I recall the final approach. Clutching Bertrand like a nervous wreck, we were in watching in awe as André skillfully maneuvered the airplane. As soon as the wheels hit the ground at Dallas Fort Worth airport, Bertrand and I were running down the runway, with tears flowing from our eyes, to meet André. Someone else now deserved our hugs!

This is certainly a record of merit, not only because of the distance flown but because it was the flight that pushed our limits once again to new levels and showed the professionalism and competence of the entire team and the technological resilience of our first prototype.  

Across America to promote clean technologies

The journey across America, that led Solar Impulse from San Francisco to New York City, has successfully come to an end concluding a new chapter in aviation history. The world’s first solar airplane able to fly day and night powered solely by the sun has flown San Francisco (CA) – Phoenix (AZ) – Dallas (TX) – ...

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The journey across America, that led Solar Impulse from San Francisco to New York City, has successfully come to an end concluding a new chapter in aviation history. The world’s first solar airplane able to fly day and night powered solely by the sun has flown San Francisco (CA) – Phoenix (AZ) – Dallas (TX) – St. Louis (MO) – Cincinnati (OH) – Washington D.C. (District of Columbia) – New York City over a period of two months.

Numerous events were organized along the way including visits of key political, business and opinion leaders, partner and educational events as well as public days allowing project Co-Founders Bertrand and André to promote the adoption of clean technologies and prove what can be done with renewable energies.  

The solar airplane arrived in New York in time for the pre-scheduled week of events despite numerous challenges faced along the way. Difficult weather conditions, particularly strong winds, made the landing in Dallas difficult while a violent storm destroyed the roof of the hanger in St. Louis, forcing the team to operate its inflatable mobile structure for the first time during a mission. Finally, during the flight to New York, an 8 ft. / 2.5m tear on the fabric on the underside of the left wing, that could have jeopardized the final leg, forced the plane to land earlier than planned.

The challenges and obstacles along the way not only show the team’s resourcefulness and flexibility but was also the perfect school for what lies ahead for the circumnavigation of the globe, scheduled for 2015.

Fun Facts:

  • World distance record in the solar aviation category of the FAI (936 miles / 1506 km), flight Phoenix to Dallas
  • 3’511 miles/ 5’650 km flown across the United States
  • 105h 41min of flight time
  • 75’000 people visiting the plane and/or meeting the pilots
  • 50 promotional and educational events organized
  • 5 million people following the flight live
  • 50 million hits on the website
  • 19 million page views on the website
  • 8.1 billion media impressions

Mission at a glance:

  • 3-4 May 2013: First leg San Francisco/Moffett Airfield – Phoenix/Sky Harbor
  • 22-23 May 2013: Second leg Phoenix/Sky Harbor – Dallas/Fort Worth
  • 3-4 June 2013: Third leg Dallas/Fort Worth – St. Louis/Lambert Airport
  • 14-15 June 2013: Fourth leg St. Louis/Lambert Airport – Washington DC/Dulles via Cincinnati
  • 6 July 2013: Fifth and last leg Washington DC/Dulles – New York/JFK

 

Photo: Faron Collins (photographer). View: Pit stop flight from St. Louis to Cincinnati. Pilot: André Borschberg


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