Solar Impulse Plane Transcontinental Flight

Many months ago we mentioned talk of a plane that could run on nothing but solar energy. It seemed like a far reach back then (and it still does now), but the idea sounded revolutionary. If you could build a plane that used no fuel, emitted no CO2 and gave off no pollution, you’d change air travel forever. Well what began in 2003 is finally seeing the light of day in 2012 as the Solar Impulse plane began its first transcontinental flight last week.

The team departed from Switzerland last Thursday and hopes to reach North Africa within the next couple of days, a task made even more difficult when your plane flies at a cruising speed of 43.5 mph. The plane’s creator, Andre Borschberg, and his colleague Bertrand Piccard will be taking turns flying the 207-foot wide (longer wings=more solar panels) single-seater aircraft. They say the mission is the final dress rehearsal for a round-the-world flight they’re planning with the finished design in 2014. I can’t tell which flies higher, the Andre’s plane or his dreams.