As part of his goal to fly across the continental U.S. in his solar-powered monoplane, Swiss psychiatrist and aeronaut Bertrand Piccard flew from the Dallas-Fort Worth International airport to St. Louis early this month, completing the third part of his five-segment journey across the country—and breaking records. The 21 hour, 22 minute flight from Texas to Illinois covered just over 550 miles, making it the longest-ever American flight completed by Piccard in the solar-powered plane.

Piccard’s flight across the continental U.S. began on May 3, 2013, when his solar-powered plane, the HB-SIA, took off from Moffett Field in Mountain View, CA. The first segment of the flight ended in Phoenix, AZ, at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International airport. Next, the plane flew to Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, to St. Louis, MO, landing on June 4 at the Lambert-St. Louis International airport.

But the HB-SIA’s flight across America has not yet been completed. The plane is also scheduled to fly to the Washington Dulles International airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy airport. Each flight segment will take anywhere from 19 to 25 hours, and the plane and its pilot will take 10-day stops in each city on the journey.

What’s next for Piccard? After manufacturing a slightly larger solar airplane based on the HB-SIA (called the HB-SIB), Piccard plans on circumnavigating the globe with the plane. It will not be the first time that the Swiss aeronaut has circumnavigated the globe—he co-piloted the first balloon to circle the world non-stop in 1999—but it will be his first trip around the globe in a long-range solar-powered aircraft. The trip is tentatively planned for 2015, and will cover a 20-25 day period.

solar impulse

The Solar Impulse Team poses with the aircraft. Credit: Solar Impulse.




Share this: