June 17, 2010
By AOPA ePublishing staff
The Solar Impulse team is preparing to tackle one of solar power’s biggest challenges: night.
The team has a goal of flying around the globe without using a drop of fossil fuel. That means the solar panels on the aircraft must gather and store enough energy during the day to propel the aircraft through the night.
The Solar Impulse prototype, which has a 208-foot wingspan and weighs a little more than 3,500 pounds, made its first flight April 7. Propelled by four 10-hp electric engines, it gathers energy from solar cells on the wings and horizontal stabilizer and flies at an average speed of 38 knots.
Early this month, the prototype flew for four hours and 50 minutes, its longest flight thus far. The team reported that this was the aircraft’s first energy-positive flight. “This means, as Claude Nicollier stated, that ‘we came back with significant more energy than we took off with,’” wrote Martin Reichlin in a blog.
As the cold weather chills AOPA’s Headquarters in Frederick, many of us are inside generating new resources for flying clubs.
In my house, every Friday night is “Movie Night.” While the movies are rarely educational (I don’t think I learned anything from the Lego Movie), we look forward to the weekly opportunity to spend time together. Why not use the same concept for your Flying Club (with the addition of education, of course)?
AOPA Flying Club Manager Kelby Ferwerda posted the following on the AOPA Flying Club Facebook Page: “Recently I’ve talked with quite a few Flying Clubs about maintaining social activity through the cold winter months. Some clubs host Holliday Parties, others have Potluck Movie Nights. What does your club do to keep members involved during the chilly months?”
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