New York's getting a new visitor this weekend: a tiny solar-powered plane that has been traveling cross-country for the past two months is on its way to John F. Kennedy Airport, marking the completion of the trip. It left Dulles Airport in Washington D.C. at 5 a.m. this morning and will land sometime early tomorrow morning, meaning it will have taken nearly a full day to travel a distance it takes most cars four hours to do. Barring traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike, of course.
The plane, called the Solar Impulse, is being helmed by pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, who say the fuel-less, day-and-night cross-country flight is a pioneering effort. "We're flying the most extraordinary airplane in the world," Piccard told USA Today. "[It] is something spectacular in order to capture the attention of the people." The plane is the first of its kind to fly cross-country, having left San Francisco in early May, with stopovers in places like Phoenix, Dallas and St Louis. Previously, it flew from Switzerland and Spain to Morocco, and Piccard and Borschberg say they're gearing up for an upgraded version of the Solar Impulse's flight around the world in 2015.
As for why it's taking the plane so damn long to get here from D.C., well, the Solar Impulse travels at the breakneck speed of 45 miles per hour, which would elicit highway road rage from even the steadiest of drivers for a long distance. Piccard says the plane's not really a method of travel so much as an attention-grabber right now. "If you make a solar bicycle to drive, nobody would care," he told USA Today. "If you make a solar plane, everybody cares. Everybody wants to see it." Currently, the plane is making good time, flying somewhere along the Jersey Shore as we speak, and when it gets to New York, it will (very slowly) buzz the Statue of Liberty before landing at JFK. You can follow its path online, and to get an idea of the snail's pace at which the adorable little plane is ambling along, check out the video below: