The Solar Impulse, a solar-powered airplane, on July 6 successfully landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport after an 18-hour flight from Washington Dulles airport. The Swiss prototype crossed the United States to showcase its ability to fly day and night powered exclusively by solar energy. Andre Borschberg, Solar Impulse co-founder and CEO, landed Solar Impulse in New York three hours earlier than planned because of a rip in the fabric on the lower side of the aircraft's left wing.
Dubbed the journey "Across America," the flight started on May 3 in San Francisco, California, and included stops in Phoenix, Arizona; Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; St. Louis, Missouri; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Washington, D.C. The journey took a total of 105 hours over 3,511 miles at an average speed of about 31 miles per hour.
On its inaugural flight in 2010, the Solar Impulse, a lightweight carbon fiber aircraft with the 208-foot wingspan of a Boeing 747-400, climbed to just under 4,000 feet during its 87 minutes aloft. The ultra-light glider-like craft weighs about as much as a car and can reach a maximum height of 28,000 feet. The aircraft has nearly 12,000 silicon mono-crystalline solar cells on its wings and on its horizontal stabilizer that provide power to the craft's four 10-horsepower electric engines. In 2011, the aircraft flew from Brussels, Belgium to Paris, France. The team plans an around-the-world tour in 2015. See the Solar Impulse website.