Saturday, May 28, 2016

Seeing the Solar Impulse

On Wednesday night after choir we all came outside to go home, when Rusty looked up and said there is the plane.  Sure enough overhead was the Solar Impulse, eerily quiet and large.  What a wingspan.  The wings are so long that when the plane lands people on bikes hook up to the wings to bring it down safely.

If you saw it overhead on Wednesday you know it flies slow - 30 mph.  It glides gently overhead making me thing of gliders, but no glider ever attempted a trip around the world solely on solar power.  YES, flying completely clean using only the power of the sun.
Tail Section

The vision of  two pilots Bertrand Piccard, psychiatrist and explorer with his avant-gardist vision, and Andr√© Borschberg, engineer and entrepreneur with his managerial experience fly the solar impulse.

The airplane is a flying laboratory full of clean technologies.  It took 12 years of research and development, to develop an aircraft powered by dozens of environmentally friendly products and processes.

Panoramic shot from tail to right wing
It took 5 days to fly from Japan to Hawaii, 5 days & nights, 1 pilot. Yup, and I saw the cockpit - it is small.  I read that the pilots use meditation techniques and yoga on the plane to endure so long.  Of course I wondered how they went potty, their suits are designed on the same basis as astronauts, so that answered that.

Energy efficient engines
With a speed of 30 mph Parke wondered how they take off.  So we asked.  They told us it takes of at 30 mph with no help and that it is a short takeoff.  WOW.  We were told that the majority of the weight of the plane comes from the energy dense batteries.  The whole top of the plane is covered with solar panels and it has 4 energy efficient electric motors that do the flying.

The Cockpit
I guess what astounds me most is that it is here - right in Catasauqua's backyard.  How cool is that.  This plane took off from Abu Dhabi.  It has made 13 flights so far and has been in the air for 384 hours and 50 minutes.  Granted it is not the fastest, but just think of what kinds of doors this opens.  I don't know about you but I find this so exciting!!! 

Kudos for the airport for being ready to handle the crowd seeing the plane.  Tickets were available on line to see it.  Ticket were free.  Luckily I saw an article on the Morning Call site of Facebook and immediately booked our tickets.  Our time was from 1 to 2pm, and I was truly in awe of it, Parke was not.  I am not sure why, but he did take some of these pictures and he wants photo credit.

The next piece of history will be when the Solar Impulse does a fly over NYC and then it's next flight will be across the Atlantic Ocean, they told me this would take another 5 days.  WOW again. 

Safe flight Solar Impulse, thanks for including us in a piece of history and that's....another day in Catasauqua.