The Solar Impulse, the completely solar powered plane, set a new milestone in the history of aviation by flying across the U.S. without using any fuel. Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg successfully completed their "Across America" mission landing at the JFK airport in New York. Initially the plan was scheduled to fly past the Statue of Liberty but this was cancelled due to the 2.5 meter tear in the fabric of the left wing.
"This last leg was especially difficult due to the damage of the fabric on the left wing. It obliged the team to envisage all the possible scenarios, including bailing out over the Atlantic. But this type of problem is inherent to every experimental endeavor. In the end, this didnt prevent us from succeeding in our Across America mission and provided an invaluable learning experience in preparation for the round-the-world tour in 2015," said Borschberg shortly after landing, adding "we extend our gratitude to all airport and government authorities whose precious support made this mission possible."
The plane made several stops along the way organizing public viewings and political meetings with high level representatives such as Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, to promote clean technologies, energy efficiency and renewable energies.
Piccard, the initiator, chairman and pilot of Solar Impulse added,"In doing so, we also pushed the boundaries of clean technologies and renewable energies to unprecedented levels".
The pilots of the plane that is covered in nearly 12,000 solar cells and powered by lithium-ion batteries at night are also planning a world trip in 2015.
The mission was completed under the following schedule:
- Early May 2013: First leg San Francisco/Moffett Airfield Phoenix/Sky Harbor
- Mid May 2013: Second leg Phoenix/Sky Harbor Dallas/Fort Worth
- End May Early June 2013: Third leg Dallas/Fort Worth St. Louis/Lambert Airport
- Early to Mid-June 2013: Fourth leg St. Louis/Lambert Airport Washington DC/Dulles
- Early July 2013: Fifth and last leg Washington DC/Dulles New York/JFK