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Solar Impulse completes cross-US mission under solar power

07 July 2013

Solar Impulse – the solar-powered aircraft  – landed successfully at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport on Saturday July 6.

The solar-powered aircraft of Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg sets a new milestone in the history of aviation; for the first time, an aircraft capable of flying day and night powered exclusively by solar energy has crossed the USA from the West to the East Coasts without using a single drop of fuel.

André Borschberg, Solar Impulse Co-founder and CEO, landed Solar Impulse at JFK on Saturday, July 6 at 11:09pm EDT, three hours earlier than planned because of a rip in the fabric on the lower side of the left wing. The flight took 18h 23min with a departure from Washington Dulles at 04:46 am EDT on Saturday.

“This last leg was especially difficult due to the damage of the fabric on the left wing," said André Borschberg shortly after landing. "It obliged the team to envisage all the possible scenarios, including bailing out over the Atlantic. But this type of problem is inherent to every experimental endeavour.

"In the end, this didn’t prevent us from succeeding in our Across America mission and provided an invaluable learning experience in preparation for the round-the-world tour in 2015.”

The arrival of Solar Impulse in New York City marks the culmination of its ambitious journey Across America, which started on May 3 in San Francisco, California. The journey took a total of 105h 41min and 3,511 miles flown at an average speed of 28.8 knots.

Before reaching New York, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg alternately flew Solar Impulse to Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth, St Louis, Cincinnati and Washington DC. The aircraft stopped over in each of these cities.

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