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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — A solar-powered plane that has wowed aviation fans in Europe is set to travel across the United States with stops in Phoenix, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and New York, organizers of the trip announced Thursday.
The plane, Solar Impulse, is expected to be ready to leave from NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. on May 1, although the actual departure will depend on the weather, the plane's Swiss creators said at a news conference at the NASA center
The Solar Impulse is powered by about 12,000 photovoltaic cells that cover massive wings and charge its batteries, allowing it to fly day and night without jet fuel. It has the wing span of a commercial airplane but the weight of the average family car, making it vulnerable to bad weather.
The schedule of the Solar Impulse Across America mission is as follows:
•Beginning May 1st/First leg: San Francisco/Moffett Airfield - Phoenix/Sky Harbor
•Mid May/Second leg: Phoenix/Sky Harbor - Dallas/Fort Worth
•End May - early June/Third leg: Dallas/Fort Worth - stopover city (Atlanta, Georgia or St. Louis, Missouri – to be determined)
•Mid June/Fourth leg: stopover city - Washington DC/Dulles
•Early July/Fifth and last leg: Washington DC/Dulles - New York/JFK
Solar plane lands in Ariz., 1st leg of major trip
He's flying Solar Impulse, considered the world's most advanced sun-powered plane.
Piccard piloted the craft for 20 hours, first cruising along the California coast after taking off from Moffett Field in Mountain View near San Francisco just after dawn Friday. He passed over Edwards Air Force Base, where other aviation milestones have been made, and then touched down early Saturday morning at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
He landed having used only three-quarters of the plane's battery power.
"It's a little bit like being in a dream," Piccard said as he stepped on the tarmac.
The plane's creators, Piccard and fellow pilot Andre Borschberg, said the trip is the first attempt by a solar airplane capable of flying day and night without fuel to fly across America.
The plane, which has previously impressed audiences in Europe, is powered by about 12,000 photovoltaic cells that cover massive wings and charge its batteries.