The Greatest Adventure Ever? Around the World in a Solar Plane
Soon, Solar Impulse will start the first ever solar plane journey around the world. It will take 5 days to complete, include a night flight and span four continents.
Do you remember Phileas Fogg? He is the hero of the book “Around the World in 80 Days”, wherein he circumnavigates the world in a balloon. (On the way, he rescues and falls in love with the Indian princess Aouda). This was, of course, fiction, written by Jules Verne.
However, when he makes the story begin in a London club as a wager amongst gentlemen, he shows how it is representative of the Victorian age of exploration. During that time, slightly odd Europeans went all over our planet to explore its farthest nooks and crannies. Have we lost this spirit of discovery? Perhaps not.
Around the World in 5 days in a Solar Plane
Today, however, since we have mapped most of our planet and can travel almost everywhere in relative comfort, we have to redefine the challenges. This is exactly what Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg of Solar Impulse do.
They want to fly around the earth in just over 5 days (and – importantly – nights) in a solar plane, without consuming even a drop of fuel. The point of this? To show that it can be done, I suppose. And to show that we can engineer and discover our way out of the current, existential climate change danger.
The plane will start in Abu Dhabi later in 2015. The exact timing will depend on weather conditions. It will then fly East to Muscat in Oman and from there to India, landing first in Ahmedabad and in Varanasi.
The next stops are Mandalay in Burma, and Chongqing and Nanjing in China. From there, the plane will fly out into the vast Pacific on its longest single leg (including a solar night flight!) to reach Hawaii.
A second flight will take it to America, with stops in Phoenix, somewhere in the Midwest and New York. From New York, it will cross the Atlantic in one go to reach somewhere either in the South of Spain or in Northern Morocco.
After that, with the Sahara sun on its solar wings, it will fly back into Abu Dhabi. It’s maximum speed during the journey will be of 140 km/h.
You can follow the adventures of Solar Impulse live on www.solarimpulse.com