May 17, 2011
By Alton K. Marsh
Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are a step closer to their goal of circling the Earth, nonstop, in a solar-powered airplane. In mid-May, the delicate craft flew from Switzerland to Brussels, Belgium. The aircraft flew 340 nautical miles in 13 hours at 27 knots.
There are still a few big steps remaining like the development of the final record challenger aircraft (similar to the one flying now) and oceanic flights. Yet the present craft has done everything asked of it, including flying all night on battery power alone. It will circle the globe by climbing and recharging its batteries during the day, slowly descending on battery power at night, bobbing among altitudes like a yo-yo until it has circumnavigated the world.
The craft departed the Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland, crossed Alsace and Nancy, then Metz, before overflying Luxemburg and arriving at Brussels Airport. It has no other form of power other than solar cells and batteries. A satellite communication system kept the pilot in touch with Payerne.
Borschberg was at the controls and flew most of the time at 6,000 feet. “It's a spectacular flight,” he said afterward. “The take off was a little challenging because we had to rush due to air traffic activity; consequently I needed a little bit of time to get everything in order before I could become [serene]. It was little bit northeast wind during takeoff; however this was not a major problem.”
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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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