First Solar Plane to Go Around the World

UPDATE: 6/30/15

After delays due to bad weather, the Solar Impulse 2 is now on its 8th leg (Nagoya to Hawaii) of its around-the-world trip.


Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg are the pioneers of solar powered aviation. This February, we can witness the first solar plane to make a flight around the world.

The plane, dubbed Solar Impulse 2, is an improved version of earlier experiments in solar powered flight.  An earlier version was dubbed the “first solar-powered aircraft of ‘perpetual endurance’ to fly “day and night without a drop of fuel,” according to its website. It used  solar cells that charge light-weight lithium batteries.

This new plane has a super wide wingspan, 12 feet wider than the Boeing 747-8. However, the creators designed it to be “super light” and it weighs in at less than a large SUV.

The flight plan has the circling the globe in 25 days. Stopping at various global ports of call along the route.

According to CNN, the two pilots already boast a few aviation records under their belt. In 2010, Borschberg piloted a previous Solar Impulse to become “the first manned plane to fly for 24 hours on nothing but solar-powered batteries.” The team broke another record in 2012, when the plane “flew from Spain to Morocco, making it the first manned sun-powered plane to fly to another continent.”

The developers of the Solar Impulse planes are constantly innovating on the potential for solar power to safely fuel aviation. The pilots admit that with it’s limited passenger capacity the plane is not designed to be a solution to the environmental impact of air travel, instead they hope their journey will raise awareness about the safety and efficacy of solar panels.

They are in good company, joining places like the Vatican, Eiffel Tower, and San Francisco Giant’s AT&T Park which trust and rely on solar as a clean energy source.

Read More: CNN