Solar Impulse Launches U.S. Cross-Country Flight

First leg of 2013 Across America mission completed.

Solar Impuse Piccard

Solar Impuse Piccard

** Solar Impulse's initiator and CEO Bertrand
Piccard after landing at Phoenix Sky Harbor

The Swiss all-electric, solar-powered Solar Impulse has completed the first leg on its 2013 Across America mission. Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse's initiator and chairman, landed on Saturday at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, 18 hours and 18 minutes after he departed from Moffett Airfield (KNUQ) near San Francisco, California. The 650 nm flight averaged about 40 mph and 10,000 ft, topping out at 21,000 ft.

The team will spend several days in Phoenix showing off the unique airplane to local residents and recovering from the long journey. A company representative said the team generally works for about 30 hours straight during a flight of this magnitude, in addition to long hours before and after the flight.

Piccard and the co-founder of Solar Impulse, André Borschberg, will take turns flying the five planned legs across the country. The team plans to depart sometime in mid-May — the exact date is weather dependent — and fly to Dallas/Fort Worth. Remaining stops include St. Louis, Missouri, Washington, D.C., and New York. Plans are for the journey to be completed sometime in early July.

The flight also launched the team’s “Clean Generation” initiative, which promotes the innovation of sustainable energy production and use.

“We’ve been dreaming about crossing the United States for years — the land of scientific research, innovation and aviation pioneers — and it’s hard to believe it’s really happening,” said Borschberg and Piccard.