The first solar-powered flight across the Atlantic

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

The competition heats up: Solar Impulse 2 has successfully completed the first solar-powered flight across the Atlantic in the 15th leg of its journey around the world.


  • PeterF

    Never be commercially viable. Now a lighter-than-air craft, like maybe a Zeppelin, would travel faster AND have a useful payload capacity.

  • Edward

    This may be more of a demonstration of current technology. This solar-powered aircraft stayed aloft over the course of 2-1/2 nights. It took off in the middle of the night, demonstrating that the power storage capacity was large yet lightweight.

    Flying to 28,000 feet suggests that there was some weighty life support hardware on board. The pilot would need oxygen and something for warmth. The power gathering and efficiency of the solar cells demonstrates that a piloted, long-distance, solar powered aircraft is much more feasible than it was not so long ago.

    The article, below, says: “It’s a demonstration that the tech is reliable.” But also listen to what the pilot says, in the 1-1/2-minute embedded video, about why they are doing this:

    The Spirit of St. Louis was a demonstration of what was possible. It was not a plane that could carry passengers, but it demonstrated that reliable long-distance flight had finally become possible with the technology available in 1927. These guys are doing something similar, demonstrating some possibilities of solar power, and possibly inspiring other uses, too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *