Solar Impulse Turns Back

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

June 13 was not a good flying day for Solar Impulse.  Hoping to finish this epic journey between continents, Andre Borschberg ran into stiff winds and severe turbulence.  Although in the air for 16 hours and 6 minutes while covering 780 kilometers (484 miles), the flight did not make it to its destination of the solar plant at Quarzazate, but returned to Rabat after battling winds and extreme turbulence.  Since the airplane cruises at around 30-35 miles per hour, its average ground speed for the flight of 55 kilometers per hour (34.1 mph) seemed normal enough, but didn’t show the wild swings in groundspeed experienced by Borschberg, a strong contrast to the uneventful leg between Madrid and Morocco. At one …

Solar Impulse Crosses Mediterranean, Joins Continents

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Waking up in the middle of the David Letterman show this morning, your editor stumbled into the computer room to check on the Solar Impulse trip to Morocco.  From the live Google Earth map shown on their web site, and the inset live video of Bertrand Piccard, all was well, and the giant solar-powered craft was sailing over surprisingly irregular terrain.  It just wasn’t the expected flat, featureless desert seen in countless films. Solar Impulse was probably still flying over Spain at that time, having taken off at 3:22 a. m. local time (5:22 coordinated universal time or Greenwich time) from Madrid’s Barajas Airport.    At 7:30 a. m. local time (Pacific Daylight Time – 4:30 UTC), Bertrand Piccard was crossing the narrow …

Dropping Into Madrid

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Solar Impulse HB-SIA, flown by project CEO Andre Borschberg, crossed the border into Spain after flying over mountainous terrain for over 17 hours on the first leg of its Payerne, Madrid, Rabat trip.  During the flight, the prototype crossed from Switzerland into France at an altitude of 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) The project’s blog explains, “The Solar Impulse airplane took-off this morning at 08h24AM (UTC+2) from Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland following the previously scheduled flight plan over the Pyrenees. The aircraft flew over the Massif Central towards the city of Toulouse (France), flying over the Pyrenees mountain range at an altitude of 7’833 meters (25,699 feet) and finally arriving in Spain, landing on Runway 33L.”  The airplane managed the 1,191 …