Yes, we realize this is not In-Airplane Tech Tell, but the Solar Impulse solar-powered airplane foreshadows a lot of what we think could shape the future of electric cars. So what better place to land it than in the backyard of Congress, whose legislation could help or hinder future clean-energy transportation endeavors?
According to the press relese from Solar Impulse (press credentials required), weather conditions forced the slow-moving solar aircraft to land in Cincinnati because the planned St. Louis-to-Washington, D.C. route could not be completed in 24 hours– the limit set for pilots of the cramped single-seat cockpit. After a brief, 14-hour layover in Cinci, pilot Bertrand Piccard took the helm from pilot André Borschberg and completed the second half of the leg, landing in D.C. at Dulles International Airport Sunday, June 16 shortly after midnight.
After landing, Piccard said, “To land in the Capital of the United States has a dual significance for me: On the one hand, it proves the reliability and potential of clean technologies and this is crucial in pushing our message forward.
“On the other hand, to be hosted by the Smithsonian Institution is an honor for Solar Impulse. The capsule of my around-the-world balloon flight is already displayed in the Air and Space Museum and I hope one day a second Swiss aircraft will join the collection,” he added, referring to the Solar Impulse.
Borschberg added, “With the successful completion of these last four US flights, we have shown that we are capable of coping with challenging meteorological conditions for our weather-sensitive plane and for our ground operations, and that we could find each time the right solutions to move forward. It has been a succession of fruitful learnings preparing us for the 2015 world tour.”
Yes, these guys are planning to fly their enormous, 27-MPH cruising speed solar-powered airplane around the world. Based on their success so far with the U.S. trip despite some challenging conditions, we give them pretty good odds of being successful in that endeavor as well. And we hope their efforts in solar-powered flight result in groundbreaking developments in solar-powered cars– or at the very least, solar-enhanced EVs and PHEVs.