Solar Powered Plane Soars Over the Golden Gate Bridge

by Nancy Atkinson on April 23, 2013

Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter

The Solar Impulse airplane flies over the Golden Gate Bridge on April 23, 2013. Credit: Solar Impulse.

The Solar Impulse airplane flies over the Golden Gate Bridge on April 23, 2013. Credit: Solar Impulse.

The world’s first solar-powered plane is stretching its wings over the US. Today it took off from Moffett Field in Mountain View, California — the home of NASA’s Ames Research Center – and flew to San Fransisco, soaring over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Starting on May 1, Solar Impulse will fly across the US to New York, making several stops along the way as a kind of “get to know you” tour for the US while the founders of Solar Impulse, Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard and and pilot Andre Borschberg, want to spread their message of sustainability and technology. You can read about the cross-country tour here on UT and also on the Solar Impulse website. You can follow Solar Impulse’s Twitter feed for the latest news of where they are.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

DreadPirateZed April 24, 2013 at 1:11 AM

What the heck?
The Gossamer Penguin had a 1.95-mile demo flight at NASA Dryden in 1980.
The follow-up plane, called the Solar Challenger, flew 163 miles from France to England in 1981.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gossamer_Penguin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Challenger
I remember as a kid being very excited about the possibilities of solar-powered flight…

I don’t mean to minimize what the Solar Impulse team are doing, and I think it’s a tragedy that MacCready’s vision didn’t go anywhere after the Solar Challenger – but you’re not doing yourself, or history, any favors by calling this the “world’s first solar-powered plane”.

Adam Singer April 24, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Wow! Had no idea solar flight happened back then as no source I’ve seen has been mentioning it yet. Thank you, and thanks to Wikipedia that cross references the articles.

Adam Singer April 24, 2013 at 11:16 AM

This airplane is powered by sun
Its energy helps it to run
It stores up the light
To fly through the night
As yet it can carry just one

Bryan Allen April 24, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Yes, even the Solar Impulse site itself talks about numerous prior solar-powered aircraft:

http://www.solarimpulse.com/en/airplane/solar-aviation/

DreadPirateZed April 25, 2013 at 9:02 AM

But this is (at least) the second post by Nancy Atkinson that refers to it as “the world’s first”. Apparently she doesn’t read the comments any more than she does historical research.

Mike McJimsey April 24, 2013 at 3:50 PM

Agreed – Solar Impulse is not the world’s first solar powered plane. It is, however, the first to be able to fly 24 hours a day, for multiple days on end. Prior solar planes could only fly during the day. The primary technical achievement of Solar Impulse is the ability to generate and store enough enough additional energy while flying during the day to be able to keep it flying during the night. That is a very remarkable achievement, even if it is not the “world’s first solar-powered plane”.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: