Up close and personal with Solar Impulse 2

CW was at the scene when the composites-intensive Si2 landed in Phoenix, AZ.

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Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) landed in Phoenix, AZ on May 2 (Photo credit: Solar Impulse). 

Here at CW, we have followed the developments of the composites-intensive Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) very closely. As the Si2 is in the middle of its round-the-world solar flight, I was thrilled to hear that it would make a stop-over in Phoenix, AZ.  

I went out to the Phoenix Goodyear Airport on May 2 to watch the single-seater Si2 make its landing at 8:55 pm local time after it took off from the Moffett Airfield in Mountain View, CA, the same morning at 5:03 am local time. The flight, that took 15 hours and 52 minutes and 745 miles at a maximum altitude of 22’000 feet and average speed of 43,58 mph, seeks to demonstrate how modern clean technologies can achieve the impossible.

I took plenty of video throughout the event, including video of the landing. Check it out below:

Prior to the landing, Initiator and Chairman Bertrand Piccard spoke with the local media. If you look at the far left corner of the video, you can see a small bright spot in the sky—that’s the Si2 making its way to Phoenix with CEO and Co-Founder André Borschberg at the controls. 

Here I asked Piccard about the importance of using composites in the aircraft.

This is the landing of the Si2. We were at first met with silence and then suddenly there was a “whoosh” sound, which was just plain cool. 

This is right after Borschberg exited the plane and he thanked the crowd for its welcome. You can see the Si2 sitting in the background. 

This one I thought would be of interest because you get a look at the Si2 wingspan, which is larger than a 747. 

Once the weather is permitting, Piccard will pilot Si2 to the next stop-over and continue the crossing of the U.S. 

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For specific details about Si2’s ultralight composite airframe, check out Donna Dawson’s article: Solar Impulse 2: Pulse on the future