By SHANNON KELLY
Can we say goodbye to jet fuel in the future? Well, that might be a long way off but at least there’s hope of a less-polluted travelsphere given last week’s first ever intercontinental flight by a solar-powered plane.
ure, the 830-km flight departing from Madrid and landing in Morocco took 19 hours (the trip takes about two hours on a commercial jet) and the plane can only fly an average of 70 km per hour, but it’s still a novel feat, especially considering that a portion of the journey took place at night and the plane landed with fully battery power still intact.
The man behind the Solar Impulse is Bertrand Piccard, who made the first nonstop around-the-world balloon flight in 1999.
Piccard says that the intention of the project isn’t necessarily to move toward making solar-powered flight viable for commercial air travel, but to raise awareness for the possibilities of solar power in general. (If it can be used to fly a plane, it can surely be used to power a car and fuel many more homes, for example.)
Piccard plans to circumnavigate the globe in the Solar Impulse in 2014.