After years of cutting-edge research, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA, the first airplane designed to run on solar energy, finally made its first non-stop, 24-hour flight on July 7th, 2010. A whole night in the air, made possible by skin-like solar panels moulded onto the wings and powerful light batteries able to give back the energy accumulated during the day and allow the plane to fly at night. The dream of famous explorers and engineers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg has become reality.
Bertrand is the grandson of Auguste Piccard, who invented the pressurised cabin and was the first man to enter the stratosphere in 1931. 20 years later, his son Jacques Piccard reached 11000 meters at the bottom of the sea aboard of a bathiscaph. Bertrand himself, inspired by the family’s pioneer spirit, surprised the whole world in 1999, when he made the first flight around the globe in 20 days in a balloon.
The no-fuel airplane was designed by a team of 80 people. It has a wingspan of 61 m and weighs only 1,500 kg. It is equipped with 4 10HP-electric motors and 12,000 photovoltaic cells. André Borschberg is its sole pilot. 80 people have worked hard to fly a plane with just one pilot aboard. Will it be possible to make a dream come true one day, and have an Airbus fly day and night on solar energy alone, proving that new technologies can reduce our dangerous dependence on oil? Meanwhile, the Solar Impulse round-the-world flight is planned for 2014…
An exceptional story.... an extraordinary documentary.