Solar Plane: Making clean tech sexy, adventurous
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Updated 6:38 am, Thursday, July 4, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) — In noisy, energetic New York City, the pilots of a spindly plane that looks more toy than jet hope to grab attention in a surprising way: His father more than half a century ago first took a submarine to the deepest and most inaccessible ocean trench on Earth. [...] in the 21st Century outside the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum annex not too far from a retired space shuttle, Piccard says there's no truly new place on Earth for explorers to pioneer. [...] the lightweight beanpole that's called Solar Impulse is something spectacular in order to capture the attention of the people. All that's left is New York's JFK Airport and Piccard talked about having to wait his turn to land with all the big jets. Borschberg lowers himself gingerly into it for a television camera, grimaces, and practically wears the plane it is so snug on him. Most of the 11,000 solar cells are on the super-long wings that seem to stretch as far as a jumbo jet's. When it landed at Dulles International Airport in suburban Washington after midnight on June 15, its wings were lit with 16 LED lights that used less power than two 100-watt bulbs. People won't sacrifice to save energy or the planet, but if they are smart they don't have to, Borschberg said. Sitting for eight hours in an economy class seat on a commercial airplane is cramped; doing what you love by sitting three times longer in this plane isn't, Piccard added. [...] Borschberg, who will pilot the last leg from Washington to New York, is hoping for a daylight approach to New York City so he can get a photo opportunity with the Statue of Liberty. What they're doing is more likely to improve energy efficiency on the ground, in cars and homes, agrees U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz who met with the pair to talk up future energy a couple days after they landed at Dulles.