Solar Impulse completes flight from Cincinnati to Washington, D.C.

The solar-powered and composites-intensive Solar Impulse aircraft has completed the second-to-last leg of its Across America mission, with one leg left to New York City.

The solar-powered and composites-intensive Solar Impulse aircraft has successfully completed the second-to-last leg of its Across America mission by landing at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) on Sunday, June 16 at 12:15 a.m. EDT. The solar-powered airplane of Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg used an unprecedented flight strategy to arrive in Washington D.C. on time despite difficult weather conditions characterizing the cross-country flights.

The fourth leg has been split into two flights because strong cross and head winds slowed down the aircraft and made it impossible for the pilot to reach the nation’s capital within 24 hours, which is the limit set for the pilot in the cramped single-seater cockpit.

The flight plan was modified as follows: André Borschberg first took off on Friday, June 14 from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and flew the aircraft for the first half of the leg until Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport. After a short pit stop of 14 hours, fellow pilot Bertrand Piccard took over the plane’s controls and flew the second half of the flight, landing at Washington Dulles International Airport Sunday, June 16 shortly after midnight.

“To land in the Capital of the United States has a dual significance for me: On the one hand, it proves the reliability and potential of clean technologies and this is crucial in pushing our message forward,” explained Bertrand Piccard upon exiting the airplane. “On the other hand, to be hosted by the Smithsonian Institution is an honor for Solar Impulse. The capsule of my around-the-world balloon flight is already displayed in the Air and Space Museum and I hope one day a second Swiss aircraft will join the collection,” he added while glancing at Solar Impulse.

After Piccard’s landing at Dulles, Borschberg added that “with the successful completion of these last four U.S. flights, we have shown that we are capable of coping with challenging meteorological conditions for our weather-sensitive plane and for our ground operations, and that we could find each time the right solutions to move forward. It has been a succession of fruitful learnings preparing us for the 2015 world tour.”

The last challenge for Solar Impulse will be to reach New York by early July. Borschberg will fly the final leg of the Across America journey from Washington Dulles International Airport to JFK in New York. The departure date will depend on weather conditions.

The Solar Impulse Across America mission is made in partnership with Solvay, Schindler, Bayer MaterialScience, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, Sunpower and the Swiss Confederation.