Solar Impulse Soars on Sunlight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

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 on the wings of his plane: ‘Section 1 – on. Section 2 – on. Section 3 – on. Section 4 – on’, said the voice of our CEO calmly – not showing at all, that in this precise moment he opened a new chapter in aviation history.”

This was Borschberg’s second flight of the day, the first a few go-arounds followed by a “beautiful landing.”

His first time at the contols, on May 24, was described this way on the project’s web site. “Then words of joy burst out of André. ‘It’s incredible, you’ll see’, he called out to Bertrand Piccard who had come running to embrace his friend. ‘But it was over much too soon. In one moment I took off and everything was suddenly quiet – and whoosh! I was already back on the ground. It’s crazy.’” 

Earlier flights by the program’s test pilot, Markus Scherdel, had achieved altitudes of 7,000 feet, tested and adjusted controls for maximum harmonization, checked control characteristics in banks up to 10 degrees, and evaluated the huge airplane’s performance.

Borschberg was generous in his praise for the team members, and especially for the supporters of the project who had purchased individually the over 12,000 solar cells that made  HB-SIA’s first solar-powered flight possible.

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