Solar Impulse lands at Dulles - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Solar Impulse lands at Dulles

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The Solar Impulse is the first airplane that can fly day and night without a drop of fuel.

And it doesn't pollute either. It's the brain child of Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg.

For the next week, it will be in a hangar at the Udvar Hazy Center in Chantilly after its history making night time landing at Dulles Airport.

"It's an extremely light aircraft. It's as big as a 747.. but it's the same weight as a human size car," Pilot Borschberg says.

Twelve thousand solar cells in the wing provide the electric motors with renewable energy for the flight. During the day, the plane essentially sunbathes to recharge the batteries so it can fly at night.

The idea was born after Piccard's history making balloon flight in 1999.

" After flying around the world non-stop in a balloon..using enormous amounts of propane fuel.. almost failing for lack of propane.. I thought to next flight like this will be in an aircraft that uses no fuel at all,"Piccard says.

This first of its kind airplane is on a less taxing trip this time, flying across the U.S-from San Franciso to JFK Airport in New York.

DC is the second to last leg of the trip, and the crew will be here a week.

While they are in town, Piccard and Borschberg will talk up the virtues of flying without fuel--thanks to the 3,524 pound flying laboratory--the Solar Impulse.

Piccard says," the technology we used on the airplane could be used on everything from cars, to construction of housing, to public and private lighting systems. and just by doing the world could divide by two it's energy consumption."

A second solar-powered plane is being built in Switzerland. The goal for that one is to fly around the world in two years.


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