Solar Impulse – the solar-powered airplane of Swiss pioneers Bertrand Picard and Andre Borschberg – has successfully landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The solar plane set a new milestone in the history of aviation: for the first time a plane capable of flying day and night, a plane powered exclusively by solar energy, has crossed the USA from the west to the east coasts without using a single drop of liquid or gaseous fuel.

Andre Borschenberg, Solar Impulse co-founder and CEO, landed Solar Impulse at JFK on Sunday, July 6 at 11:09 EDT. The flight took 18 hours and 23 minutes, with a departure from Washington Dulles on July 5.

The solar-powered monoplane began its flight across the continental U.S. on May 3, 2013 in Mountain View, CA. The journey included stops at Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Washington D.C.

Each flight segment lasted anywhere from 19 to 25 hours, with 10-day stops in each city.

“Flying coast-to-coast has always been a mythical milestone full of challenges for aviation pioneers. During this journey we had to find solutions for a lot of unforeseen situations, which obliged us to develop new skills and strategies. In doing so, we also pushed the boundaries of clean technologies and renewable energies to unprecedented levels,” said Dr. Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse initiator, chairman, and pilot.

What’s next for Solar Impulse? After manufacturing a slightly larger solar airplane based on the Solar Impulse, Piccard and Borschenberg plan on circumnavigating the globe with the plane. It will not be the first time that Piccard 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.

June Solar Impulse

Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg pose with the Solar Impulse at the JKF International Airport in New York. The plane is the first solar-powered aircraft to successfully travel day and night across the continental U.S. Credit: Solar Impulse.

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