Solar-Powered Plane Ends Coast-To-Coast Trip With A Suspenseful Landing

Solar Impulse

A solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse, ended its historic trip across America with a dramatic landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) late Saturday.  

The plane landed three hours earlier than planned, at 11:09 p.m. EDT, because of a rip in the fabric on the lower side of the left wing, according to the company’s website. 

The plane was not in danger, but it made the last leg of a near 230-mile journey “especially difficult,” Swiss pilot André Borschberg said.  

Borschberg is the co-founder and CEO of Solar Impulse. He and and one other pilot, Bertrand Piccard, have been alternately flying the aircraft since leaving San Francisco on their cross-country journey on May 3 with stops in Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Washington D.C.

Before landing at JFK, the aircraft was supposed to fly over several New York City landmarks. Those plans hit a snag when the tear was discovered, forcing “the team to envisage all the possible scenarios, including bailing out over the Atlantic,” Borschberg said. 

The plane landing safely after a flying time of 18 hours and 23 minutes. 

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