across america tour, alternative energy, ama, Andre Borscberg, Andre Borscberg Solar Impulse, Andre Borschberg, ask me anything, bertrand piccard, Bertrand Piccard Solar Impulse, California, energy efficient plane, fuel-free airplane, fuel-free plane, green technology, green transportation, HB-SIA, lightweight airplane, moffett air filed, mountain view, NASA Ames Research Center, photovoltaic panels, photovoltaics, reddit, renewable energy, renewable energy sources, solar impulse, solar impulse across america, Solar Impulse Cross America 2013, solar impulse lands in new york, solar impulse nyc, solar panels, solar plane, solar power, solar powered aircraft, solar powered airplane, solar powered plane, sun-powered plane, world’s first solar planeA photo of the tear in the Solar Impulse’s left wing. The reason for the gash is still being investigated by the flight team.

“For the plane that never sleeps, what other destination than the city that never sleeps?” said Bertrand Piccard, co-founder of the Solar Impulse initiative and one of the two pilots who alternated to fly the sun-powered plane across the country.

The Solar Impulse is a fuel-free plane that took off from San Francisco in May to show the world that a transcontinental flight across the U.S.A could be completed by a solar-powered aircraft. The plane landed safely at JFK late Saturday night but had its share of bumps along the way, including a gash under its left wing as it approached NYC, a tornado-torn hanger in St. Louis, MO, and too much lift as it circled the Golden Gate Bridge. But perhaps the biggest challenge of all was the fatigue that the two pilots, Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, had to face as they took turns navigating the one-seater plane across the U.S. for 24 hours at a time.

“The weak part is the pilot,” said Borschberg. “The pilot is not yet sustainable.”

Piccard explained that if maintaining the health and comfort were not a factor, the plane could travel much further distances since it collects power from the sun and stores that energy in batteries for when the sun is not shining. “It’s complete freedom,” he said. “Theoretically, the plane can fly forever.”

Click here to read more about the Solar Impulse and its specs.

So what’s next for the Solar Impulse? The team will soon be gearing up for a solar-powered flight around the world scheduled for 2015, but before that, the plane will remain at Hangar 19 for a week. The Swiss Consulate is inviting the public to a special event on Saturday, July 13 with food, entertainment, and of course, a chance to see view the plane in person. Click here to RSVP for the tour here but hurry because it’s filling up fast!

+ Solar Impulse

+ Solar Impulse coverage on Inhabitat NYC