At sunrise on Wednesday, an airplane took off from Phoenix International Airport, eventually landing 1,000 miles to the east in Dallas. That in itself is hardly remarkable. Commercial jets travel the same path dozens of times each day. What was different about this journey was that the aircraft, the Solar Impulse, is powered by sunlight. When it touched down at DFW Airport just after 1 a.m., running off battery power for the trip's final hours, it had just completed the world's longest-ever solar powered flight.
Piloting the vessel was Andre Borschberg, a Swiss entrepreneur who helped launch the Solar Impulse project a decade ago. Three years ago, he piloted the plane for a record 26 hours though, with an average speed of 26 miles per hour, he covered significantly less ground than he did on the Dallas trip.
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"It shows that with this technology, we can really do something in terms of controlling, reducing our energy consumption," Borschberg told reporters after landing at DFW, where the vessel will remain for about a week.
The stop in Dallas is the completion of the second leg of the Solar Impulse's cross-country journey, which started in May. The eventual goal, tentatively eyed for completion in 2015, is to circumnavigate the globe.
And here's a video from Solar Impulse of the plane landing at DFW: