We here at Inhabitat are huge fans of the Solar Impulse, an incredible zero emission aircraft powered by 12,000 solar cells located on its wings. Over the last year we’ve cheered this stellar solar plane on through its impressive trials – from its first flight to its first ascent out into the night sky – but little did we know that the best was yet to come. In its latest challenge, the Solar Impulse is performing a lengthy, landmark tour of its fine home country of Switzerland, even sharing the same airspace as other commercial aircrafts!
The Solar Impulse, or the HB-SIA, has been given a whole new set of challenges by its team with a national tour of Switzerland that took off early this week. During its adventure, the aircraft will be making multiple takeoffs and landings over the course of a day as well as flying within the same airspace as other aircrafts.
Thus far the national tour led by pilot André Borschberg, has brought the plane from the home base in Payerne to Geneva and back again. The flight to Geneva lasted about four and a half hours and marked the first time the plane had landed at a civilian airport. Yesterday the aircraft took off from Payerne to Zurich, where after a brief stay in Zurich, it immediately returned to Payerne.
The flights can be followed on Twitter where regular ‘tweets’ let fans know where the aircraft is heading and when it will reach its next destination. The path of the flights completed thus far can be seen here.
The tour of Switzerland comes after Solar Impulse’s historic night flight in early July, which made headlines worldwide for being the first plane powered by solar energy retained in batteries. With a 208-foot wingspan, 3,500 lbs body, and four 10-horsepower electric motors powered by solar batteries, the Solar Impulse is without question a true feat of engineering.