Solar Impulse plane ends American odyssey with fears, tears and cheers - NBC News.com
The Swiss-built Solar Impulse airplane ended its two-month-long, solar-powered trip across America with a nail-biter of a flight from Washington to New York on Saturday.Patrons - SOLAR IMPULSE - AROUND THE WORLD IN A SOLAR AIRPLANE
The extra drama came from the discovery in the trip's final hours that the ultra-light airplane had suffered an 8-foot-long (2.5-meter-long) tear in the fabric on the lower side of the left wing. Andre Borschberg, who was filling the pilot's seat for the Washington-to-New York segment of the "Across America" journey, noticed a balance issue with the wings on Saturday afternoon — and pictures taken by a helicopter flying nearby confirmed the damage.
Neither Borschberg nor the plane were thought to be in danger; nevertheless, the Solar Impulse team did everything it could to reduce the risk. That meant considering all the options for ending the flight, including the possibility of bailing out over the Atlantic. It meant passing up a Statue of Liberty photo op and working out a deal with air traffic controllers to land the plane three hours earlier than originally planned. And it meant changing the landing procedure."We have an airplane which has almost unlimited endurance," Borschberg told NBC News. "This airplane could have flown directly from California to New York, so it’s fully sustainable in terms of energy. The limiting factor is the pilot."
These last years, several eminent personalities have committed themselves to searching for concrete solutions to safeguard the future of our planet. Solar Impulse has invited some of them to join in the adventure
«At the cutting edge of exploration and renewable energy, and technology, this expedition has the potential to capture our imaginations. Solar Impulse will help bring to us images of our world while, at the same time, demonstrating that we can find alternatives to carbon-based fuels.»