...And Round The World On Solar Power

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

What's next for Fossett and his well-heeled buddies? There's apparently something in the works and it will be announced in a few months, but we have to wonder if it's as ambitious as Bertrand Piccard's plan. As AVweb told you a couple of years ago, the Swiss psychiatrist (no relation to Jean-Luc) thinks he'll be the first to circumnavigate the world in a solar-powered aircraft called the Solar Impulse. The technical challenges he faces make GlobalFlyer's fuel problems seem trivial. " Our greatest problem is managing to store enough solar energy during the day to be able to fly at night," said Piccard. The aircraft will weigh just 3,300 pounds but have a 265-foot wingspan. Large twin props will be mounted on booms above the fuselage. Piccard isn't planning a nonstop flight. At a cruise speed of about 63 knots he's looking at a minimum flight time of more than 315 hours. But his proposed route includes four pretty long legs, including a crossing of the Pacific. First trials could be held in 2007. The $60 million effort is being bankrolled by some anonymous investors and Piccard has some fairly lofty goals for the aftermath of his flight. "Solar Impulse will be a platform for launching more discussions on sustainable development and the technologies which will allow it to happen," he said.