While the Across America mission is well behind us and we are working on finishing the second prototype airplane HB SIB and preparing for the 2015 Around-the-World flights, there are still a few successes coming out of our American adventure, writes Gregory Blatt for Solar Impulse. By Amber Archangel. The following is courtesy of Solar Impulse:
Solar Impulse: An idea born in Switzerland | © Solar Impulse | Revillard| Rezo.ch
The FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale | International Aviation Federation) ratified 3 new records for Solar Impulse on November 4, 2013.
André’s flight from Phoenix to Dallas on May 23 2013 will go down in aviation history books for longest solar powered straight distance (1386.5 km), distance along a course, pre-declared waypoints (1487.6km) and free distance (1506.5km) flight.
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Just as important as achieving a “first ever“, this particular flight was perhaps one of the hardest flights Solar Impulse has flown to date. You may recall that strong headwinds made it exceptionally challenging for the Pilot. André spent the day riding the updraft and downdraft of the mountain winds. The landing itself was an aeronautical feat as André literally had to “crab crawl” Solar Impulse sideways to position the airplane for landing.
I have witnessed practically every take off and landing of Solar Impulse but this one still brings shivers down my spine as I recall the final approach. Clutching Bertrand like a nervous wreck, we were in watching in awe as André skillfully maneuvered the airplane. As soon as the wheels hit the ground at Dallas Fort Worth airport, Bertrand and I were running down the runway, with tears flowing from our eyes, to meet André. Someone else now deserved our hugs!
This is certainly a record of merit, not only because of the distance flown but because it was the flight that pushed our limits once again to new levels and showed the professionalism and competence of the entire team and the technological resilience of our first prototype.