After an aborted attempt on Tuesday, the experimental plane Solar Impulse 2 finally traveled from Pennsylvania to New York City early this morning. Pilot and co-founder of Solar Impulse André Borschberg touched down at JFK International Airport on 11 June at 3:59 a.m.; he left Lehigh Valley at 11:18 p.m. last night. He did circle the Statue of Liberty for some pretty pictures.
The plane, which has a wingspan of 236 feet, weighs 5,100 pounds and has 17,248 solar cells, is currently attempting the first solar flight around the world, and a press release explains, "The arrival in New York City also marks the completion of the crossing of the United States Mainland - a journey that took both pilots, taking turns at the controls of Si2, through San Francisco, in the Silicon Valley; Phoenix, in the Sonora desert; Tulsa, the city of oil at the very heart of the tornado alley; Dayton, the birthplace of the Wright Brothers; and the industrial hills of Lehigh Valley, before reaching New York City, home to the United Nations Headquarters&,dash;a tandem achievement without a single drop of fuel."
The other Solar Impulse co-founder, Betrand Piccard, said, “We received very positive and heartwarming responses during our journey through the United States, because it’s a country of pioneers and explorers. It’s amazing to see to what extent people understand not only what we do, but also why we do it: to show that if we all used the same clean technologies as Solar Impulse on the ground we could create jobs, enhance profits and boost economic growth, while also protecting the environment."
Borschberg added, "There is such a strong culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the United States, and we have felt this spirit every step of the way, be it technological innovation in the Silicon Valley, or aviation pioneering in Dayton, the home of the Wright brothers where they invented the airplane. Among other things, arriving in New York by flying around the Statue of Liberty represents the entrepreneurial freedom that is so specific to this country."
All told, this flight had a maximum altitude of 3,000 feet and an average speed of 35 mph, traveling 165 miles. Next stop: Abu Dhabi.