Solar Powered Plane: A Glimmer of Hope

I got my monthly copy of National Geographic in the mail today, and flipping to a random page, I came across the coolest thing of all time: a glider with solar panels. Said the article:

“The next time I fly around the world,” though Bertrand Piccard, “I don’t want to have my eyes busy on the fuel gauge.” That was in 1999, when the Swiss adventurer spent 19 days aloft in a hot-air balloon with 32 tanks of propane. He’s getting half his wish: His next project, Solar Impulse, has gauges, but no fuel. Using only the sun’s rays, the HB-SIA prototype will take flight next spring. (A round-the-world trip with another plane is set for 2011.) Piccard’s unique plane requires precise flying and top-notch meteorologists. So, will commercial airliners ever be solar powered? Nobody knows. But unmanned solar fliers– cheap to launch, easy to fix -0 could one day replace some satellites. Meantime, Piccard hopes to inspire people on the ground to reach for new heights in alternative energy.

This has me excited for alternative energy — if only our government would put more money into it. Can you imagine flying on a solar powered plane? What else is possible?
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  1. Craig Berger

    The thing that gets me about alternative energy is that it’s such a huge and momentous chance for our collective imaginations to truly make a difference.

    But the tipping point just hasn’t been there yet. It needs to be.

    We need to be funding these projects left and right.

  2. leapsecond

    Indeed. If we were to become a leader in alternative energy technology (both production and conception), our country could benefit greatly. We could be the Saudi Arabia, if you will, of alternative energy if we put our best thinkers forward and funded the projects.

    But… We aren’t and Germany is the leader at this point in alternative energy.

  3. Craig Berger

    What a letdown.

  4. leapsecond

    Let’s just hope China doesn’t overtake us, eh?

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