Solar Plane Sets Distance Record in 18-Hour Flight

But Phoenix-Dallas flight wasn't exactly shredding any speed records
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2013 7:33 AM CDT
Solar Plane Sets Distance Record in 18-Hour Flight
Solar Impulse, piloted by Andr? Borschberg, takes flight during the second leg of the 2013 Across America mission, at dawn, May 22, 2013, from Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix.   (AP Photo/Matt York)

The Solar Impulse—the entirely solar-powered plane you have to be a little bit crazy to fly—isn't even close to finished with its ambitious cross-country odyssey, but it's already made history. The Impulse broke its own record for the longest solar-powered flight today when it landed safely in Dallas just after 2am, completing a 958-mile flight that began more than 18 hours earlier in Phoenix, NBC News reports. The previous record was 693 miles, set on the Impulse's Switzerland to Spain flight.

Of course, you could drive significantly faster than that—the Impulse tops out at about 35mph—but the plane is designed to show the potential for solar flight. And besides, pilot Andre Borschberg has had worse, having previously set the record for the longest duration for a separate solar-powered flight, at more than 26 hours."You have to understand that the pilot needs to stay awake … without any autopilot," he tells the BBC. "This leg was particularly challenging because of fairly strong winds at the landing." (More Solar Impulse stories.)

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