- Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard took the controls of the solar powered aircraft for the 18 hour 10 minute flight
- The aircraft flew 975 miles, reaching an alittude of 22,000 feet, during the journey from Arizona to Tulsa, Oklahoma
- The team will spend a week preparing for a push towards New York before attempting to cross the Atlantic
A solar-powered aircraft attempting to fly around the world without using any fuel has safely completed the eleventh leg of its epic journey after landing in Oklahoma.
Solar Impulse 2, piloted by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, landed after an 18 hour and 10 minute flight from Phoenix, Arizona, to Tulsa International Airport in Oklahoma.
The aircraft flew 975 miles (1,570km) and reached an altitude of 22,000ft (6,705 metres), taking the team behind the aircraft another step closer to their 21,700 mile (34,922km) record breaking journey around the world using only the power of the sun.
Solar Impulse 2 landed safely in the dark at Tulsa International Airport after an 18-hour flight from Phoenix. It brings the team another step closer to their 21,700-mile round the world goal. It has now travelled more than 17,000 miles
The aircraft flew 975 miles (1,570km) and reached an altitude of 22,000ft (6,705 metres), taking the team behind the aircraft another step closer to their 21,700 mile (34,922km) record breaking journey around the world using only the power of the sun
The Swiss-made Solar Impulse 2 took off from Phoenix Goodyear Airport about 3am on Thursday. It landed without incident at Tulsa International Airport around 11.15pm local, meaning the aircraft has now travelled 17,000 miles (27,350km) since setting off on its record attempt last year.
The crew are likely to stay in Tulsa for a few days while they wait for the weather to clear before it makes another flight over the United States ahead of tackling the crossing of the Atlantic from New York.
HOW DOES SOLAR IMPULSE WORK?
Solar Impulse 2 is powered by 17,000 solar cells and on-board rechargeable lithium batteries, allowing it to fly through the night.
Its wingspan is longer than a jumbo jet but its light construction keeps its weight to about as much as a car.
Solar Impulse 2 relies on getting enough solar power during the day to survive the night.
It is also extremely light – about the weight of a car – and as wide as a passenger jet.
Both of these combined means it is extremely susceptible to the weather.
In high winds it can struggle to stay aloft at the altitudes necessary to gather sunlight.
André Borschberg will pilot Solar Impulse 2 on the twelveth leg of the journey as it continues to cross the United States. However, the exact destination is yet to be decided.
A statement released by the Solar Impulse 2 team said: ‘Until two days before takeoff, our engineers had not even considered flying to Oklahoma due to its tornado potential. ‘They were originally considering a flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Kansas City, Missouri, however due to difficult weather conditions over the plains in the state of Kansas, we had to find a different solution.
‘Landing in Tulsa is symbolic, as it lies at the heart of the United States. Route 66, the iconic road that stretches from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona until ending in Santa Monica, California was initiated by entrepreneurs in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
‘This flight marks the third Solar Impulse mission flight this year after the Pacific Crossing and the flight from San Francisco to Phoenix, Arizona.
‘Our goal now is to reach New York as soon as possible in order to have enough time to find a clear weather window to cross the Atlantic.’
Solar Impulse 2 departed from northern California in the early hours of May 2 and landed at the airport southwest of Phoenix 16 hours later. Last month, it flew from Hawaii to California.
The globe-circling voyage began in March 2015 from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and made stops in Oman, Myanmar, China and Japan.
Pilot Bertrand Piccard took 20 minute naps during the 18-hour flight. He was greeted at Tulsa International Airport as he stepped out of the aircraft’s cockpit by his fellow pilot Andre Borschberg. The pair is taking turns to fly the aircraft on each leg of the journey
Solar Impulse 2 has a flight speed of about 28 mph, although that can double during the day when the sun’s rays are strongest. The $100 million solar project began in 2002 to highlight the importance of renewable energy and the spirit of innovation
The Solar Impulse 2 touched down safely in Tulsa before taxiing (pictured) to a hangar where the team will begin assessing its performance during the flight and preparing it for the next leg of the journey
The aircraft reached a little over 11,400ft (3,475 metres) as the sun began to rise a little under two hours into the 18 hour flight to Oklahoma (view from the cockpit pictured)
After Oklahoma, the plane is expected to make at least one more stop in the United States before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Europe or northern Africa, according to the website documenting the journey.
The Solar Impulse 2’s wings, which stretch wider than those of a Boeing 747, are equipped with 17,000 solar cells that power propellers and charge batteries.
The plane runs on energy stored in its high density batteries during the night.
Its maximum altitude is 27,900ft (8,500m) but this drops to 3,280ft (1,000m), when the pilot is able to take short 20 minute catnaps.
The Solar Impulse 2 is built from a range of lightweight materials and high storage batteries (illustrated) to help keep the experimental aircraft in the air for long periods using just the power from sunlight
Piccard and Borschberg have been taking turns flying the plane on an around-the-world trip since taking off from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, in March 2015. The plane’s maximum altitude is 27,900ft (8,500m) but this drops to 3,280ft (1,000m), when the pilot is able to take short 20-minute catnaps. The route is pictured
A world map shows the path of the solar powered-plane so far, as it continues to cross the United States. Today’s stage will take Solar Impulse across the mid US, heading towards New York for its next major challenge – crossing the Atlantic Ocean
To help break up the long periods in the cramped cockpit, the pilots planned to land Solar Impulse 2 in 12 locations around the world.
Solar Impulse 2 was grounded in July last year after ‘irreversible damage to certain parts of the batteries’ as it flew across the first half of its journey across the Pacific from Japan to Hawaii.
Following its record-breaking, five-day flight across the Pacific last month, battery temperatures surged.
In particular, there was too much insulation which caused the plane’s battery temperature to spike on the first day of the flight across the Pacific.
Bertrand Piccard (pictured before taking off in Arizona) piloted the aircraft 975 miles during the 18 hour flight from Phoenix to Tulsa
The crew struggled to find ways of cooling the batteries once the aircraft was in the air.
Upon arriving in Hawaii, following a five day trip from Japan, the team decided to delay the rest of the trip until spring this year when the weather is likely to be more favourable for flying.
The aircraft was flown over the Pacific to Hawaii by Piccard’s teammate Andre Borschberg, whose 118-hour journey smashed the previous record of 76 hours and 45 minutes set by US adventurer Steve Fossett in 2006.
The trans-Pacific leg was the riskiest part of the plane’s global travels because of the lack of emergency landing sites.
Solar Impulse 2 has a flight speed of about 28 mph, although that can double during the day when the sun’s rays are strongest.
In total the aircraft is expected to travel 21,700 miles in its around the world journey from Abu Dhabi.
The $100 million solar project began in 2002 to highlight the importance of renewable energy and the spirit of innovation.
Crowds gathered to watch the aircraft, which has a wingspan similar to a Boeing 747, as it left Arizona (pictured) for Oklahoma
Article By: RICHARD GRAY FOR MAILONLINE