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First flight across Switzerland in a solar plane

100 years after a plane first linked two Swiss cities, Bertrand Piccard's and André Borschberg's Solar Impulse HB-SIA made its first flights across Switzerland, powered solely by solar energy. The prototype, piloted by André Borschberg, achieved the first leg of the mission yesterday joining Payerne to Geneva International Airport before returning back to its base in Payerne. This morning, the solar aircraft took off again direction Zurich International Airport where it landed at 14h30. It then again flew back to Payerne. Throughout the flight, the public was able to follow the progress of Solar Impulse, flying at low altitude on a pre-announced route.

"These flights are just amazing! Thanks to the plane's low speed, I was able to discover Switzerland from a completely new angle, fully taking in the beauty of our country!" said André Borschberg, CEO and Co-founder of Solar Impulse, from the cockpit of HB SIA in Zurich. "The Swiss solar flights represent a major step forward for our team, taking us away from our customary airspace. We have learned to work together with international airports, merging in with the heavy Swiss air traffic. Our next step will be an international flight, but that's for next year!"

"The team has made a truly tremendous effort! The long-distance flights scheduled for next year look more and more promising!" added Raymond Clerc, Solar Impulse's flight Mission Director.

For Bertrand Piccard, President and Initiator of Solar Impulse, this event is an occasion to present the Solar Impulse Foundation's educational projects. "Using the solar plane as a symbol, our goal is to promote the pioneering spirit in young people, making them aware of the importance of renewable energy, energy saving and new technologies (CleanTechs)."

For this purpose, web-based online lectures are to be held on a monthly basis with schools wishing to take part. "It is a great pleasure for us to respond to teachers' requests to get their pupils involved", added Bertrand Piccard.

A competition will also be launched in school classes in partnership with Swisscom to reward environmental projects "Climate Pioneers". In addition, an education kit is now downloadable from the www.solarimpulse.com website and 3D animated visit of the airplane is also available.

The next major milestones for Solar Impulse are the international flights scheduled for next year, the trans-Atlantic flight in 2012, and the circumnavigation of the world in 2013 on board the 2nd prototype, whose design phase will be starting this autumn.

Press release issued by Solar Impulse SA on September 24, 2010

 

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