Native Village
Youth and Education news
October 2010 Volume 3

Solar Plane Passes Big Test, Flies 24 Hours Straight
Condensed by Native Village

Switzerland: A solar-powered plane has completed a crucial 24 test flight in the skies over Switzerland.

The Solar Impulse landed around 9:00 am after 26 hours in the air. It had just completed the world's first night flight with a solar plane. 

"When the sun rose, I saw the solar generators slowly getting back to active, so I thought, hmm, it's alive again! And I knew I could continue flying for another day," said pilot Andre Borschberg. "It was so beautiful. When you're passionate about flying, you can just keep on doing it."

Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of the Solar Impulse project, flew the plane to an altitude of 28,000 feet during the day.  The 12,000 solar panels soaked up enough of the sun's energy to keep the batteries charged and plane aloft through the night.

How it Works:

After landing, the technical team rushed to stabilize the Impulse and help the pilot out.

"When you took off it was another era," said an emotional Bertrand Piccard, co-founder of the project. "Now you land in an era where people understand that with renewable energy you can do impossible things.""

"Everything went very well, it's really unbelievable,"  Borschberg said after exiting the bathtub-sized cockpit. "We demonstrated it is feasible to fly day and night, which means this technology can be used to save energy and to produce energy, and that's exactly what we wanted to show."

Borschberg said sunset and dawn were the best moments of the flight because of the "gorgeous colors reflecting on the wings."

A successful day-and-night cycle was a vital step toward traveling around the world. This summer, the team plans to build a slightly larger version which could fly for up to 5 days. It would land only to switch pilots.

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