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Thursday, March 12, 2015

AROUND THE WORLD WITH THE SOLAR IMPULSE

I've long been intrigued with around the world journeys.  I was first inspired in 1956 by the film Around the World in 80 Days.  I am planning for my final, and, perhaps twelfth, round the world adventure this Fall.  

Well, the Solar Impulse began its global effort earlier this week from Abu Dhabi, and landed 13 hours later in Muscat (Oman), averaging 35 miles/hour.  The next day, the plane flew for more than 15 hours and made it to Ahmedabad, India.  There will be a dozen legs taking five months, and #7 will land in Hawaii from Nanjing, China:


StartStartOriginDestinationDistanceTimeAvg Speed
19 March 2015 03:12 UTCUnited Arab Emirates Abu DhabiUAEOman Muscat, Oman733 km[citation needed]13h 1'56.3 km/h(30.4 kn)AndrĂ© Borschberg
210 March 2015 02:35 UTCOman MuscatOmanIndia AhmedabadIndia1434 km15h 20'93.5 km/h (50.5 kn)Bertrand Piccard
3India AhmedabadIndiaIndia VaranasiIndia
4India VaranasiIndiaBurma MandalayMyanmar
5Burma MandalayMyanmarChina ChongqingChina
6China ChongqingChinaChina NanjingChina
7China NanjingChinaUnited States HawaiiUSA
8United States HawaiiUSAUnited States PhoenixUSA
9United States PhoenixUSAUnited States TBD (mid-USA)
10United States TBD (mid-USA)United States New YorkUSA
11United States New YorkUSA TBD (Southern Europe or Morocco)
12 TBD (Southern Europe or Morocco)United Arab Emirates Abu DhabiUAE



The Solar Impulse is a photovoltaics-powered aircraft piloted by Swiss aeronaut Bertrand Piccard (above), who already rode the first balloon to circle the world...non-stop.  Swiss businessman Andre Borschberg will co-fly the plane.  No, Bertrand is not the son of Jean-Luc Picard, that fictional character from Star Trek.  His father is Jacques (right in the above photo), who, with a colleague of mine, Don Walsh (left), in 1960, used a bathyscaphe, the Trieste, dropping to the deepest part of our oceans, the Mariana Trench, a depth of 35,797.
The Solar Impulse:
  • Has a wingspan of 236 feet, longer than that of the latest Boeing 747 and about that of the Airbus 380, the largest passenger plane.
  • Uses 45 kW of monocrystalline solar photovoltaic cells, by SunPower of Europe.
  • Which feed lithium-ion batteries, powering four electric motors at 13 kW each.
  • Is funded by European companies, although Toyota is in the mix.

The craft has an average cruise speed of around 46 MPH, can stay in the air as long as 36 hours and has an altitude ceiling (cockpit for one pilot is unpressurized) of 27,900 feet.

Leg #3 will fly some time this weekend to Varanasi.  Here is a map of the journey, which began in the middle, which is circled:


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You think you have problems?  Vanuatu has Tropical Cyclone Nathan heading from the West, but is particularly concerned about Super Tropical Cyclone Pam at 155 MPH come from the North:


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