A solar-powered airplane, Solar Impulse, that was set to complete an historic cross-country journey across the United States made a dramatic early landing late Saturday (July 6, 2013), when damage was observed on one of the aircraft's wings. Here the plane in Hangar 19 at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Solar Impulse, shown here in Hangar 19, touched down JFK at 11:09 p.m. EDT on July 6, after fabric on the aircraft's left wing suffered an 8-foot-long (2.5 meters) tear, according to company officials.
While flight controllers said neither the pilot nor the plane were in danger, the decision was made to land several hours early. Solar Impulse was originally scheduled to land at around 2 a.m. EDT on Sunday (July 7, 2013), after roughly 21 hours in air, and after flying over several iconic New York City landmarks.
Solar Impulse (shown here in Hangar 19 at JFK) is the first aircraft capable of flying day and night without fuel. The ultra-lightweight plane is powered entirely by solar panels and onboard batteries, which charge during the day to allow the plane to fly when the sun goes down.
The carbon-fiber aircraft weighs the same as a small car, and its wings, which are covered with 12,000 solar cells, stretch roughly the same length as a 747 jetliner. The plane generates about the same power as a small scooter, according to company officials.
Solar Impulse Pilots
Solar Impulse co-founders and pilots Bertrand Piccard (left) and Andre Borschberg (right) stand in front of the Solar Impulse aircraft at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Bertrand Piccard (left) and Andre Borschberg (right) hold a flag for their Clean Generation Initiative at JFK airport on July 8, 2013.