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Solar Impulse, the solar-powered airplane, ready to fly across America this spring
Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the Swiss pilots and founders of Solar Impulse, announced today that their solar-powered airplane will attempt a coast-to-coast crossing of the U.S. this spring without using a single drop of fuel.

Mountain View -- March 28, 2013 

It will be the first time that an airplane, capable of flying 24 hours non-stop day and night powered exclusively by solar energy, will fly across America. Solar Impulse will leave in early May from San Francisco (Moffett Airfield) and stop in four U.S. cities including Phoenix, Dallas Fort Worth and Washington D.C. before reaching New York’s JFK airport, its final destination in early July.

 Following in the footsteps of the American founding fathers of aviation, Solar Impulse’s pioneering endeavor across the U.S. will be a highly significant one: it is the last mission before attempting a zero-fuel round-the-world flight in 2015.

Solar Impulse wants to inspire and motivate as many people as possible throughout its journey across America. “We want to show that with clean technologies, a passionate team and a farreaching pioneering vision one can achieve the impossible.” said Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse Initiator, Chairman and pilot. He further added that, “If we all challenged certitudes by driving change and being pioneers in our everyday lives, we can create innovative solutions for society’s biggest challenges.”

With the wingspan of a jumbo jet (63.4m / 208 ft) and the weight of a small car (1600kg / 3,527 lb) - this revolutionary airplane is being hailed by experts as a technological wonder. “A flying laboratory for clean technologies, this prototype is the result of seven years of intense work in the fields of materials science, energy management and man-machine interface. Many of these technologies can also be applied to sectors beyond aviation,” said André Borschberg, Solar Impulse co-founder, CEO and pilot.

In order to give everyone the possibility to be part of the adventure, Solar Impulse will organize conferences and events on educational themes in the various stopover cities where the airplane will be showcased. All the flights and most conferences will be live streamed on the Solar Impulse’s website http://www.solarimpulse.com/en/tag/Across-America.

The “Across America” mission at a glance:

  • Early May 2013: First leg San Francisco/Moffett Airfield – Phoenix/Sky Harbor
  • Mid May 2013: Second leg Phoenix/Sky Harbor – Dallas/Fort Worth
  • End May – Early June 2013: Third leg Dallas/Fort Worth – stopover city TBD
  • Mid June 2013: Fourth leg stopover city TBD – Washington DC/Dulles
  • Early July 2013: Fifth and last leg Washington DC/Dulles – New York/JFK

The American mission flights received the financial support of the following mission partners: Solvay, Schindler, Bayer Material Science, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions and the Swiss Confederation. HD pictures, press releases, background documents.

HD footage and videos can be downloaded at the following address:

User: solar-impulse
Password: zerofuelairplane-2012

Press contacts:

Solar Impulse
Email: press@solarimpulse.com
Alexandra Gindroz | +41 79 688 45 55
Alenka Zibetto | +41 79 415 82 84

About Solar Impulse
Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard (Chairman) and André Borschberg (CEO) are the founders, pilots and  he driving force behind Solar Impulse, the first airplane that can fly day and night without fuel or polluting emissions. Solar Impulse is a unique adventure that aims to bring emotions back at the heart of scientific exploration, a flying laboratory to find innovative technological solutions for today’s challenges and a vision to inspire each of us to be pioneers in our everyday lives.

This revolutionary carbon fibre airplane has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 (63.4m / 208 ft) and the weight of a small car (1,600kg / 3,527 lb). It is the result of seven years of intense work, calculations, simulations and tests by a team of about 80 people and 100 partners and advisors. A plane so big and light has never been built before. The 12,000 solar cells built into the wing provide four 10HP electric motors with renewable energy. By day the solar cells recharge the 400kg / 881 lb lithium batteries which allow the plane to fly at night.

Notes to the editor

The partners

Solar Impulse is supported by:

  • Main Partners: Solvay, Omega, Deutsche Bank and Schindler
  • Official Partners: Altran, Bayer MaterialScience and Swiss Re Corporate Solutions
  • Moreover Solar Impulse can count on the support of about 100 specialized partners

Key milestones and records

  • 2010: First-ever solar-powered night flight (26-hour flight: pilot André Borschberg)
  • 2011: First international solar flight from Switzerland to Belgium and France
  • 2012: First intercontinental flight with a solar airplane (Europe to North Africa: pilot Bertrand Piccard)

5 certified FAI world records in solar aviation to date:

  • Duration: 26h, 10 min, 19 sec
  • Absolute altitude: 9,235 m / 30,300 ft
  • Gain of height: 8,744 m / 28,688 ft
  • Free distance along a course: 1,116 km
  • Straight distance pre-declared waypoints: 1,099.3 km

Solar Impulse’s U.S. Legacy

The Piccard family: three generations of explorers
Bertrand Piccard, Doctor, Psychiatrist and Aeronaut is Solar Impulse’s Initiator, Chairman and Pilot. Bertrand made the first ever nonstop round-the-world balloon flight and the Breitling Orbiter 3 capsule is part of the permanent exhibition at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum alongside the capsule of Apollo 11 and the airplanes of the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh and Chuck Yeager. Bertrand comes from a lineage of explorers. His grandfather Auguste invented the pressurized cabin, being the first to ascend into the stratosphere in 1931 and 1932 and reaching heights of more than 16,000 meters. He was also the first man to see the Earth's curvature with his own eyes.

Auguste’s twin brother Jean constructed the first US stratospheric balloon in 1931 and his American wife was the first woman to reach the stratosphere. Star Trek’s captain Jean-Luc Picard was named after Jean.

Auguste and Jacques (Bertrand’s father) built a revolutionary submarine, the Bathyscaphe, also known as “the Trieste”. Jacques made with it the deepest dive ever, 7 miles down to the bottom of the Marianas Trench in 1960 together with U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh. The Bathyscaphe is exhibited at the US Navy Yard in Washington D.C.

In 1969, Jacques led the Ben Franklin Expedition, a joint venture with NASA, the US Navy and the Grumman Corporation, exploring the Gulfstream in a submarine, drifting 3000 KM and lasting one month.

André Borschberg: the entrepreneurial pilot
An engineer by education and a graduate of the EPFL, the Swiss Institute of Technology, in mechanics and thermodynamics, André Borschberg has solid experience in creating and managing companies, as well as in flying.

Fascinated by aviation from his earliest youth, André Borschberg trained as a pilot in the Swiss air force, flying Northrop F-5 Tigers for over 20 years.

He very quickly supplemented his training with a Master’s in Management Science from the Sloan School, MIT Boston.

He worked as a consultant at McKinsey, one of the world’s leading business consultancies, for 5 years, before starting his own entrepreneurial activities. André Borschberg has constantly developed and led numerous technology projects, companies and start-ups, as both investor and entrepreneur in Europe and the US. He successfully launched two start-ups in the Internet and new technologies sectors.