Solar Impulse, the innovative Swiss solar-powered airplane, arrived in Phoenix on May 4, 2013 marking a succesful first leg of their 2013 Across America mission. The Solar Impulse team participated in a variety of events including the Phoenix Event Week, Arizona State University's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Spring 2013 graduation ceremony, and a meeting with Gary Dirks, director of ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and ASU LightWorks, to learn about ASU’s impressive research and development of solar energy. The Solar Impulse airplane took flight from Phoenix on May 22, 2013.
Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the pilots and founders of the Solar Impulse, plan to fly across the USA from coast-to-coast solely through the use of solar power in their “Across America” challenge. Piccard and Borschberg marked the first leg of their trip as they landed in Phoenix on May 4, 2013. During their time in Phoenix, the Solar Impulse team hosted a Phoenix Event Week that highlighted both the innovative solar airplane and Arizona’s significant strides in solar energy and clean tech development. During the event, Bertrand named Arizona Governor Jan Brewer “Solar Queen” because of the significant investments in solar power that have been made in Arizona. The Solar Impulse Phoenix Event Week proved successful with the support of 2,200 people that came to the Phoenix Sky Harbor International airport to see the solar airplane.
Piccard and Borschberg also addressed the 2013 spring graduates of the ASU Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. The pilots spoke about their project and the Solar Impulse team, which is made up of 90 engineers, technicians, technical advisers, organizers, and communications and media managers. Piccard noted the significance of speaking to ASU engineering graduates as a meaningful part of their trip to Phoenix. Both pilots pointed out the importance of engineers having a diverse set of skills and collaborative techniques, skills that ASU engineering students have learned from the university’s interdisciplinary approach to education and research.
The Solar Impulse has broken barriers from being the first airplane that can fly day and night without the use of fuel. The Solar Impulse left Phoenix heading to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and their landing took place on Thursday, May 23rd. In their trip out of Phoenix, Solar Impulse was followed by a helicopter crew that captured the event on film. Watch the video of the Solar Impulse takeoff from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport here.
Solar Impulse states that “the development of efficient and renewable energies is as important for the security and prosperity of our society as for the protection of the environment and our natural resources”. The steps that Piccard and Borschberg have taken speak highly to the advancements in solar technology and have helped changed the way we see the future of energy. Arizona State University is also an excellent example of taking the lead to incorporate solar as a present and future energy source, and we commend the Solar Impulse team for their vision and initiative.
Written by Gabrielle Olson, ASU LightWorks
Photos retrieved from Solar Impluse.