Did anyone hear about this ground-breaking flight?  We LIVE and WORK the mantra of ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.’  It’s an ages old idea that has generated so many great inventors, industry pioneers and US.  We here at IFE want to bring this note-worthy event to your attention – as, with every trial, we grow closer to making the ‘impossible’ a functioning reality.  BRAVO!

Solar power - the obvious next generation in air travel to explore.

Solar power – the obvious next generation in air travel to explore.

Wright Brothers Inspire Pilots of Solar Plane


In the heart of aviation’s birthplace, the visionary behind the history-making solar airplane that stopped in Dayton on an around-the-word trek said electric planes will be in commercial use within a decade.

“My wish is a plane like Solar Impulse can really show the way,” said Bertrand Piccard, who first thought about developing a plane that flew without fuel in 1999. “The planes will not be solar very fast, but they can all be electric. I bet in 10 years time, there will be electric airplanes transporting at least 50 people for short or medium haul flights.”

Piccard, who shares piloting the single-seat plane with fellow Swiss aviator Andre Borschberg, said electric planes will be able to land at urban airports day or night with little noise and no pollution while providing jobs and increasing the profit of airlines.

“You can plug into the grid,” Piccard said. “The efficiency of such an electric engine is so much better that it starts now to compensate for the weight of the batteries.”

Piccard, whose grandfather developed the pressurized aircraft cabin, said being in the hometown of the Wright brothers is a reminder that success often comes after adversity, but dedication to an idea, hard work and perseverance can pay off.

“You know what I love the most about the Wright brothers? It’s not the fact that they were the first. It’s the fact that they continued to try despite the setbacks, the pressures and the people who said it was impossible,” Piccard said. “This is admirable.”

The Solar Impulse 2 with a wingspan greater than a 747 jumbo jet yet weighing just 5,100 pounds — about as much as a family car — is expected to depart Dayton International Airport about 5:45 a.m. Tuesday. The plane is scheduled to land next at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Pennsylvania. From there, it flies to New York City followed by a days-long Atlantic Ocean crossing, which will be piloted by Piccard.

Brightly-lighted against the night sky, the plane touched down in Dayton about 10 p.m. Saturday night. Since then, it’s been housed in an inflatable hangar at the airport where it’s attended to by about 20 ground crew members. Another 30 are traveling in support of the mission, said Solar Impulse spokeswoman Emily Geer.

Pilot Andre Borschberg piloted Solar Impulse 2 into Dayton from Tulsa, Okla., the 12th leg of the the trek about two-thirds completed. The plane took off in March 2015 from Abu Dhabi and Piccard expects to touch down there to complete the journey in July.

It’s not a fast plane — it took 16 hours 34 minutes, an average ground speed of about 42 mph to reach Dayton from Tulsa — but it doesn’t burn a drop of aviation fuel. The aircraft is covered by more than 17,000 solar cells that power batteries driving electric engines powering four propellers. The 93-percent efficient propulsion system cab pulls the plane along at 30-50 mph and up to a maximum altitude of 28,000 feet.

The longest flight, piloted by Borschberg in July 2015, took five days and five nights, a 117-hour and 52-minute crossing of the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Hawaii. The trek has five scheduled legs remaining, including hops of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.

Piccard and Borschberg are not permitted to sleep over populated areas, but over oceans they take short naps of 20 minutes up to 12 times a day as an autopilot system keeps the wings stabalized and the plane going in one direction. At high altitudes, the pilot must wear an oxygen mask because to keep weight to a minimum, the cabin isn’t pressurized.

“It’s a little bit of a shame for me when I think of my grandfather… But if it was pressurized it would be too heavy,” Piccard said. “It’s like the Wright brothers’ (plane): it’s a single-seater, as light as possible, flying very slowly and only in good weather.”

Staff Writer Barrie Barber contributed to this report.

Copyright 2016 – Dayton Daily News, Ohio