Over the past two days, the Solar Impulse (HB-SIA) has been flying around Switzerland. The plane, which flies on solar energy alone, flew from Payerne to Genève and back again. Yesterday, the Solar Impulse flew to Zurich and back. It wasn’t a speedy flight but it was a beautiful one.
Blorge first began following Bertrand Piccard’s Solar Impulse back in May of 2008 when it was still in the planning stage. Last December, this solar plane took a mini test flight and in April of this year it went on a more extensive and intricate test flight. Back in July pilot and CEO André Borschberg flew the Solar Impulse on its first all night flight.
On Tuesday, September 21st at 8 am (GMT+2), the Solar Impulse took off from the airport in Pyerne to fly to Genève. The flight plan was as follows:
“…the Solar Impulse will first head east to Fribourg. There the plane will then turn south and finally, once André is flying over Lake Geneva, turn west. On their way to Geneva, the machine will overfly – amongst other places – Bulle, Vevey, Chillon Castle, Lausanne, Rolle and Nyon.
The return flight began at 12:30pm when “André…start[ed] his trip back with the HB-SIA along Lake Geneva to Lausanne and then to Payerne.”
The following day’s flight plan was: “Payerne start 8:15 (GMT +2), Bern 9:15 – 10:15 am, Lucerne, Zug, Lake of Zürich, City of Zürich 11:50 – 12:50, Zürich International Airport landing 14:30. Start for return flight before 15 pm.” During the flight Borschberg circled both Lake Lucerne and Lake Zürich giving sightseers more than they expected.
Both flights were followed by crowds on the ground that took pictures of the plane as it flew overhead. Pictures were sent to the Solar Impulse team so that they could be posted on the web site making the flight a community effort.
The Solar Impulse team has grown to over 50 specialists from six countries and over 100 advisors. The two founders Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg have seen the first part of their dream come true. Their solar powered plane is capable of flying long distances and at night. Next year the team is expected to start an around the world tour in the Solar Impulse similar to Bertrand Piccard’s 1999 around the world flight in the Orbiter 3 balloon.
The Solar Impulse challenge was started as a way to push the boundaries of what’s possible as well as to draw attention to solar energy and new ways that it can be used. The recent flights across Switzerland have certainly impressed the home country with their success.
Next year, the rest of the world will get the chance to see the Solar Impulse in flight. I can’t wait.