The completely solar-powered plane, the Solar Impulse, was scheduled to arrive at JFK Airport this morning, but a tear in its wing forced a landing late last night. The plane's website noted, "A tear of 2.5 meters / 8 feet has appeared on the fabric of the lower side of the left wing."
The Solar Impulse, piloted by Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg who hope to promote green travel, has been making its way across the country and only travels 45 mph (it left Washington D.C. yesterday morning). Borschberg told Live Science that the tear "didn't affect the control. [The tear] was discovered by the helicopter who took the pictures, so I wouldn't have known it if the helicopter wouldn't have told us. It's simply by chance that it happened this way, and then of course afterwards, we took the safe route and we decided to come here and land earlier than was anticipated."
The plane's early landing at 11:09 p.m. meant it missed its fly-by at the Statue of Liberty. But Piccard emphasized, "Flying coast-to-coast has always been a mythical milestone full of challenges for aviation pioneers. During this journey, we had to find solutions for a lot of unforeseen situations, which obliged us to develop new skills and strategies. In doing so, we also pushed the boundaries of clean technologies and renewable energies to unprecedented levels." He did admit, "Maybe if I didn't have 10 cameras pointed at me, I would cry."
If you're interested in getting a look at the Solar Impulse, the plane can be viewed at JFK next week—details here.