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Solar Impulse lands in DC

June 16, 2013

The solar-powered plane has landed in the US capital, Washington, in the penultimate leg of a transcontinental trip to New York City. The project's creators want to demonstrate the potential of solar power.

Bildergalerie Solar Impulse First Flight of Bertrand Piccard , Juli 2011 Lizenzfrei unter der CC-Lizenz veröffentlicht
Image: Creative Commons/Solar Impulse

The single-seat Solar Impulse plane touched down in Dulles International Airport on Sunday, after making an unplanned stop in the Midwestern city of Cincinnati because of difficult weather conditions.

The trip from Cincinnati to Washington took 14 hours. Solar Impulse runs on four electric propellers powered by 12,000 solar cells mounted on its 63-meter (68-yard) wingspan. At night, the plane reaches an altitude of 27,000 feet and then glides downwards, using virtually no energy until the sun rises again. Solar Impulse travels at a speed of approximately 64 kilometers per hour (40 miles per hour).

Solar Impulse will be on display in Washington for two weeks, at the Udvar-Hazy wing of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

"To be hosted by the Smithsonian Institution is an honor for Solar Impulse," said Bertrand Piccard, who is swapping the piloting duties with his fellow Swiss national Andre Borschberg.

Karte Route Solar Impulse USA 2013 DEU DW-Grafik: Olof Pock Datum: 05.06.2013
Solar Impulse's US route. The plane made an unplanned stop in Cincinnati, Ohio

Preparation for 2015 world tour

Although Solar Impulse had originally planned to fly directly from St. Louis, Missouri, to Washington, poor weather conditions meant that Piccard would have had to pilot the plane for longer than the 24-hour set limit. Instead, an unscheduled stop was made in Cincinnati.

The first leg of Solar Impulse's transcontinental journey took place on May 3, from San Francisco, California, to Phoenix, Arizona. Solar Impulse is expected to complete its US trip and land in New York City in July.

Piccard and Borschberg are using their US trip as preparation for their ultimate goal, a flight around the world in 2015.

slk/mkg (AP, AFP)