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Thursday, May 19th, 2011
Associated Press



SOLAR-POWERED PLANE COMPLETES HISTORIC INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT
by Associated Press - EU

The experimental aircraft 'Solar Impulse' lands on the tarmac at Brussels International Airport after its first international flight from Switzerland, Friday, May 13, 2011. The single-seater prototype took off Friday morning and reached Brussels airport by nightfall. The solar-powered plane with the wingspan of a Boeing 777 made its 2009 maiden flight in Switzerland and further tests have all taken place there. (AP Photo/Thierry Roge, pool)

GENEVA (AP) A team of Swiss adventurers took their solar-powered plane on its first international flight Friday, a 370-mile (600-kilometer) leap from a small airfield in Switzerland to Brussels airport in Belgium.

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA single-seater prototype took off from Payerne airfield in Switzerland at 8:40 a.m. (0640 GMT) after a three-hour delay due to strong winds. It reached Brussels by nightfall.

Pilot Andre Borschberg, right, of the experimental aircraft 'Solar Impulse' gets congratulations by Belgium's Crown Prince Philippe, left, and Bertrand Piccard, center, after he landed at Brussels International Airport on its inaugural international flight from Switzerland, Friday, May 13, 2011. The single-seater prototype took off Friday morning and reached Brussels airport by nightfall. The solar-powered plane with the wingspan of a Boeing 777 made its 2009 maiden flight in Switzerland and further tests have all taken place there, but now it has become an international flying machine. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)

The plane with the wingspan of a Boeing 777 made its 2009 maiden flight in Switzerland and further tests have all taken place there. Last year it completed a 26-hour non-stop flight that proved the plane can stay aloft at night from the solar energy its 12,000 solar cells soaked up during the day.

The team, led by pilot Andre Borschberg and adventurer Bertrand Piccard, said Friday's flight across France, Luxembourg and Belgium overcame new obstacles as it required navigation across international air traffic networks.

The experimental aircraft 'Solar Impulse' lands on the tarmac at Brussels International Airport after its first international flight from Switzerland, Friday, May 13, 2011. The single-seater prototype took off Friday morning and reached Brussels airport by nightfall. The solar-powered plane with the wingspan of a Boeing 777 made its 2009 maiden flight in Switzerland and further tests have all taken place there. (AP Photo/Thierry Roge, pool)

They hope to fly an improved version of the plane around the world in 2012.

The flight can be followed on the team's website, where visitors can track the plane's progress live on a map and see key parameters such as altitude, ground speed, battery levels and how much energy its solar cells are generating.




Written by Associated Press - EU
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten , or redistributed.

Photos courtesy of AP Photo
Images created by Yves Logghe, Thierry Roge, pool
Last changed on: 5/19/2011 2:53:46 PM

The Solar Impulse For more about this ground-breaking solar aircraft.

The MY HERO Project For the Hero story of aviation pioneers, Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Wikipedia For more information about the science behind solar energy.

 

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