Solar Powered Plane Soars Over the Golden Gate Bridge | Universe Today
Categories: Technology

Solar Powered Plane Soars Over the Golden Gate Bridge

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.

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004. She is the author of a new book on the Apollo program, "Eight Years to the Moon," which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible. Her first book, "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond.

View Comments

  • 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".

    • 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.

  • 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

    • 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.

  • 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".

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