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The Solar Impulse landed in New York City on July 6, 2013, completing the final leg of its cross-country flight and making it the first solar-powered airplane to fly across the United States.
Powered by 11,000 solar cells on its oversized wings, the plane landed approximately three hours early due to an 8-foot-long tear in its left wing. The crew said the breakage posed no threat to pilots Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, although they had to skip the planned fly-by of the Statue of Liberty.
Piccard told The Washington Post
This revolutionary aircraft – the first to navigate cross-country strictly on solar energy – rose to 30,000 feet and reached a top speed of 45 mph. Weighing approximately the size of a small car, the Solar Impulse flew with power comparable to that of a motorized scooter. According to the Post, “the cross-country flight is a tuneup for a planned 2015 flight around the globe with an upgraded version of the plane.” Europe experienced its first transcontinental solar airplane flight in 2012.
Photo by Solar Impulse