Solar-Powered Airplane Makes Plans to Take to the Skies Once More

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Written by Josh McFadden | Last Updated October 30th, 2019
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Not even weather or technical issues will stop Switzerland's Andre Borschberg for attempting to make history. He'll just have to do it a little later than he had originally planned.

The pilot

The 62-year-old Borschberg is the co-founder and pilot of Solar Impulse, a solar-powered airplane he hopes to fly around the globe. Borschberg announced yesterday that he has secured $20 in funding to help make his dream come true.

Borschberg, a former Swiss Air Force fighter pilot, had initially intended to complete the 21,748-mile multi-leg journey by the end of the year. The trip got underway last March in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. However, in June, strong winds in China and an overheated battery over the Pacific cut the plans short. The plane spent the winter in a hangar in Hawaii.

Now, having raised funds thanks to backers that include chemical maker Solvay, Swiss lift maker Schindler, power grid maker ABB and Swatch's Omega brand, Borschberg said the monumental flight could resume in the spring of 2016.

Solar Impulse and its journey

The aircraft has a wider wingspan than a 747 but weighs as much as a five-seat family car. It also has more than 17,000 solar cells .

With co-pilot Bertrand Piccard at his side, Borschberg is confident the rest of the trip will be a success.

"The financial side is under control," Borschberg said. "We are all very focused and looking forward to continuing next year."

Providing there are no unforeseen hindrances, Borschberg plans on beginning test flights this coming March. The journey is slated to restart in April when Borschberg and Piccard will fly Solar impulse from Hawaii to North American. This first leg will cover around 2,500 miles.

Depending on weather conditions, Solar Impulse could land on the West Coast in Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles or Phoenix. Likely, the plane will make a visit somewhere in the Midwest U.S., followed by a stop in New York City, where the plane will then depart for ether Europe or North Africa. Lastly, Solar Impulse will return where the long journey began in Abu Dhabi.

"We know we can do it, but it remains a challenge," Borschberg said.

The purpose

Borschberg is not only trying to accomplish something never before done, but he is trying to promote the message that using renewable energy will help put an end to climate change.

"That's what we used to make it feasible to fly day and night with the sun only," he said. "That's what we certainly could implement on a larger scale."

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