Words and Video by Ron Marsico, Media Relations Staff
Solar Impulse 2 glided eastward after taking off from Kennedy Airport at 2:30 a.m. today, attempting to become the first fuel-free plane to cross the Atlantic — 89 years after Charles Lindbergh’s historic single-engine fueled flight from Long Island to Paris.
Pilot Bertrand Piccard needed only roughly 600 feet of runway to bring Si2 aloft with its solar-powered propellers whirling on a huge wingspan stretching 236 feet that maximizes lift. The transatlantic leg is part of Si2’s larger mission: Becoming the first solar plane to fly around-the-world in a trip that started in Abu Dhabi last year and is expected to end there within weeks.
Si2 is following a portion of Lindbergh’s route to Europe, first flying up along North America’s eastern coast before veering across the ocean; While it took Lucky Lindy 33.5 hours to land in Paris, Piccard’s trip is expected to take four days and he will land in Spain instead of Paris because the weather window is better on that changed path.
Piccard’s fellow pilot, Andre Borschberg, flew into JFK Airport on June 11 on a short hop from the LeHigh Valley in Pennsylvania. Three years earlier Borschberg and Piccard flew the smaller Solar Impulse 1 across the United States, finishing that trip at Kennedy Airport as a prelude to the trip around the globe.
Monitor radio transmissions inside the cockpit