Scott: Check out this airplane. It is like no other plane in the world. The aircraft weighs about as much as a car but its wings are as long as those on a 747, and they are covered with 12,000 solar cells.
This plane is called Solar Impulse, and it is powered completely by the sun. And it can store enough solar energy to fly all night, making what was once thought impossible, possible – non-stop solar powered flight.
Bertrand Piccard: We can be pioneers as soon as we identify very, very honestly what we deeply believe and try the opposite. Like this, we can invent completely new things.
Scott: The aircraft was built in Switzerland then shipped to California where it was re-assembled at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. But its pilots say this plane belongs to the world.
Piccard: This project belongs to all the people who would like to invent a better future. Don’t believe people who say it’s impossible because, usually, we are prisoners of common assumptions, prisoners of the fear of failing.
Scott: The Solar Impulse has already flown over Europe and recently flew a test flight in San Francisco. Today, the Swiss team plans for its first flight across America.
Piccard: We anticipate, with Andre and with our entire team, absolutely great time over the U.S.
Scott: The plane travels at just 30 to 45 miles an hour. So, it will take days to cross the U.S.
The Solar Impulse is scheduled to take off from San Francisco with stops in Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis, Washington, D.C. and New York. During its cross-country trip, the Solar Impulse is able to fly all night. But its cockpit is only big enough for one person, so the pilots will have to split the journey.
Andre: No. No sleep. But it’s also so beautiful to fly in this airplane. It’s such a great moment that keeps you fully awake.
Scott: A great moment that the Solar Impulse crew hopes will awaken the world to the potential of green energy.
Piccard: We should now conquer the quality of life. And you have to do it in a clean way.
Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.
- How is this solar plane, Solar Impulse, different from others?
- What are two drawbacks to the Solar Impulse that make it unsuitable for a long-distance vacation?