Solar Impulse sun-powered Plane flies from California to Phoenix, AZ on way across America (Video)

Bertrand Piccard is piloting the sun-powered plane, ‘Solar Impulse,’ across America in legs. This video is of his flight from California up to San Francisco and then down to Phoenix, AZ this weekend. He used only a third of his battery power on this leg. Airplanes are currently a source of carbon pollution, contributing to climate change (though they pale in importance in this regard before automobiles, trucks, and coal plants). Sun-powered flight is the future, and Piccard is demonstrating that the future is here.

The next leg will be flown next week, from Phoenix to Dallas.

Here’s the video:

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6 Responses

  1. It’s a fascinating experiment (I love this kind of technology) , but whether solar-powered flight for masses of passengers will ever be practical remains to be seen. Wishing won’t make it so.

  2. The numbers of small general aviation aircraft flying (not sitting), and the number of active GA pleasure pilots have been in steady decline for decades with an equally steady shift to much more expensive toy planes for the rich. Solar planes will fly, but it will be by government, municipality, military, and corporations, not everyperson. Lindberg and the barnstormers are long dead, Musk is where it’s at, and Europe and eastern Europe are where most light planes are produced now.

  3. Direct solar power planes will never be practical transportation. There just isn’t enough energy hitting the plane’s surface. Biofuels as indirect solar energy are possible now. Maybe electrical storage will get energy density high enough at some point as well.

    Solar Impulse is very cool, pushes bounds, refines technologies but cannot lead to a replacement for jet-speed transport.

    • Never is a long time. You assume solar panels’ efficiency cannot be dramatically improved. It will prove to be an incorrect assumption.

      • This is very interesting technology, but even at 100% efficiency solar conversion will never deliver the necessary amount of energy for commercial aviation. And I do mean never. Do the math.

        The upper surface area of a 747 is approximately 1500 square meters. Insolation provides about 1.4kW per square meter. So that’s a little over 2,000 kW.

        According to Wikipedia, the average power consumption of a 747 is 140MW. That’s seventy times the available solar power, even at an unrealistic 100% efficiency.

        Commercial aviation requires liquid fuel or an as yet to be invented energy source with a comparable energy density.

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