The Solar Impulse 2 aeroplane, which is powered by nothing more than the power of the Sun itself, is now departing for Dayton, Ohio as it continues its flight around the globe.
Solar Impulse 2 took off from an airstrip in Phoenix, Arizona early Saturday morning to make way for Ohio because there has been a golden opportunity in weather conditions to do so. The one-man occupancy, the pilot himself, is already in the air and en route.
The trip should be completed within 18 hours or so. It's a long flight, but travelling at 30-60 miles per hour means it takes a while longer than it would in a commercial aircraft.
The aeroplane, which faced delays for a good nine months in Hawaii due to power problems and necessary repairs, is trying to get back to its origin, the United Arab Emirates, on nothing more than solar power.
The feat is a demonstration of the power of solar energy, and is in no way a symbol of solar power replacing jet engines in the near future. After all, Solar Impulse 2 only travels at an average speed of 30-60 miles per hour, and jet engine planes travel much, much faster than that.
Even so, the demonstration is impressive because the aeroplane is powered by 17,000 individual photovoltaic cells.
These cells collect energy and power the aeroplane simultaneously during the day, but only power the aeroplane during the night. For this reason, the plane reaches 60 miles per hour during the day, but goes into a power-saving 30-mile-per-hour mode at night.
The ultimate test is still ahead. To get back to its destination, Solar Impulse 2 will have to trek across the Atlantic Ocean. Ideally, Solar Impulse 2 will want to get closer to the East coast in order to get as much of a head start for the trip as possible.
The one-man pilot André Borschberg is taking things one step at a time for safety’s sake.