On Saturday April 23, 2016 a plane landed in California after a two and a half day long flight across the Pacific Ocean. The plane did not use one drop of fuel and was powered entirely by the sun.
Swiss explorer and psychiatrist Bertrand Piccard piloted the Solar Impulse 2, touching down in Mountain View, California, just before midnight.
“It’s a new era. It’s not science fiction. It’s today,” Piccard told CNN from California after his successful voyage. “It exists and clean technologies can do the impossible.”
The solar aircraft has the wingspan of a Boeing 747, but weighs around the same as an average SUV. “I’m very happy that everything works extremely well and the airplane is functioning as it should,” Piccard’s business partner and the plane’s other pilot, Swiss engineer Andre Borschberg, told CNN by phone from California just ahead of the successful, on-schedule landing. “It’s a demonstration that the tech is reliable.” The plane took off from Hawaii on Thursday, resuming a journey that had started 10 months prior after stalling in Oahu. The plane travels at about the same speed as a car, which is why the journey from Hawaii to California took just over 62 hours to complete.
What Does This Mean For The Future Of Flight?
Currently under some weight restraints, this plane is unable to carry passengers at this time, but considering how far we’ve come since Amelia Earhart’s 1935 solo flight from Hawaii to California — the Solar Impulse 2 completed this same flight without any fuel whatsoever — I think we can expect commercial flights in the not-too-distant future. We have come remarkably far in less than a century already.
The Solar Impulse expedition intends to show how we can use clean technologies and therefore can change the world. This technology obviously isn’t going to be implemented universally overnight, but if a plane can fly across the ocean for 62 hours straight without fuel, I’m sure the arrival of a completely solar-powered car on the market is far from a futuristic pipe dream.
The sun provides enough energy to power the world, and with solar farms popping up everywhere these days, the future is certainly starting to look a lot cleaner and greener. It’s time to move past these old, outdated technologies and onto something that is harmonious for us and the planet we live on. Just imagine not having to pay for gas! We are closer than we think.