On From Rabat – Solar Impulse Explores Morocco

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Solar Impulse took off from Rabat-Sale’ Airport this morning 08:07 a. m. local time, heading over Casablanca and Marrakesh on its way south to Quarzazate, where it is expected to land at 00:30 a. m. local time.   Considering early ground speeds under 15 kilometers per hour (about 9 miles per hour), headwinds are a major constraint.  Turbulence may also cause difficulties, the area having an average daily temperature in the high 90s and low 100s Fahrenheit. Quarzazate is a high desert city whose name in Arabic means “noiselessly,” probably reflecting the vast stillness of the surround desert.  Home to Atlas film studios, one of the largest in world, and setting, along with the desert and Atlas Mountains, for films such …

Solar Impulse Crosses Mediterranean, Joins Continents

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

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 …

Solar Impulse Overnighter: 26 Hours Nine Minutes

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Andre’ Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of the Solar Impulse project, landed this morning at 9:00 a.m. (local tme) in Payerne, Switzerland, having completed the first-ever night flight on battery energy stored during the previous day through the craft’s solar cells.  Taking off at 6:51 a.m. July 7, Borschberg flew the 64-meter span, four-motor airplane in large patterns around the area, gaining altitude to a height of 8,564 meters (27,404 feet) above sea level and charging the batteries – all while running the motors at climb power. As night fell, he glided to preserve the stored power, ran the motors as needed to maintain altitude, and landed with a small reserve.  This successful demonstration of being able to run the motors on …

Solar Impulse All-Nighter July 1

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse is set to attempt its first night flight on Thursday, July 1, 2010. Weather conditions are “Favourable for attempting the first night flight on solar energy,” according to the Solar Impulse web site.   “The situation continues to look good and the likelihood of seeing the HB-SIA take off on July 1st and land back in the early morning 2nd July is increasingly probable.” The Solar Impulse team will confirm the date 24 hours before take-off time.  Only accredited journalists will be allowed on-site to witness the event, so don’t head for the Payerne, Switzerland airbase, but follow the flights on the Internet at the project’s special Night Flight web page at www.solarimpulse.com. These flights are crucial to the ongoing aim of …

Solar Impulse Soars on Sunlight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Andre Borschberg, CEO of the Solar Impulse Project, had this to say after he landed following the seventh flight of the Airbus-sized solar craft – but the first using its solar panels for power. “It was like a first encounter with the sun. After I had turned on the solar panel I could see the energy reserves increasing although the engines were continuously consuming power. Never before in my 40 years as a pilot have I experienced anything like this.” Martin Reichlin reported on the excitement of going solar on May 28’s second flight.  “A few minutes ago we could follow by radio how André switched on the four sectors of the round about 200 square meters of solar panels …

An Hour and 27 Minutes in the Sun

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The press release and pictures tell a beautiful story.  The CAFE Foundation offers its congratulations to the Solar Impulse team. This morning (April 7, 2010) at 10:27, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA took off from Payerne (VD) airfield on its maiden flight. Under the eyes of thousands of spectators from all over Switzerland, Solar Impulse HB-SIA slowly climbed up to 1200 meters. The next 87 minutes Solar Impulse test pilot Markus Scherdel spent familiarizing himself with the prototype’s flight behaviour and performing the initial flight exercises before making the first landing on the Vaudois tarmac. The execution of these various manoeuvres (turns, simulating the approach phase) was designed to get a feel for the aircraft and verify its controllability. “This first flight was …