Solar Impulse Night Flight Success & Plastiki Crosses the Pacific

Solar Impulse Night Flight Success & Plastiki Crosses the Pacific

Now that the Solar Impulse has shown that flying at night using solar energy stored during the day has been proved, the project can start pushing the human and technological limits further. Meanwhile, the boat made of thousands of plastic bottles, the Plastiki  is on the final leg of her epic journey from San Francisco to Sydney. 

Report on Solar Impulse:

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA, with André Borschberg at its controls, successfully landed this morning (8 July 2010) at 09:00, to the cheers of a crowd of supporters who came to celebrate this great milestone.

For more than 26 hours, André Borschberg expertly piloted the aircraft with its 64 meter wingspan. The plane was up in the air yesterday for the whole day, then through the entire night, flying solely on solar energy. This flight is the longest and highest in the history of solar aviation!

“I’ve been a pilot for 40 years now, but this flight has been the most incredible one of my flying career. Just sitting there and watching the battery charge level rise and rise thanks to the sun… And then that suspense, not knowing whether we were going to manage to stay up in the air the whole night. And finally the joy of seeing the sun rise and feeling the energy beginning to circulate in the solar panels again!” These were the emotional words of André Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of the Solar Impulse project, spoken on leaving the cockpit. “I have just flown more than 26 hours without using a drop of fuel and without causing any pollution!”

“Bravo André! You have just proved that what I have been dreaming about for the last 11 years, is possible”, cried out Bertrand Piccard, initiator and President of the project, the moment the Solar Impulse HB-SIA touched down. He went on to say that “This is a crucial step forward, it gives full credibility to the speeches we hold since years about renewable energies and CleanTechs and allows us now to get closer to the perpetual flight without using a drop of fuel!” He then ran over to hug his partner, both men full of tears.

“Such success would not have been possible without all the hard work put in by an exceptional team”, said Claude Nicollier, head of the Solar Impulse test flight programme.

“The success also belongs to Solvay, Omega, the Deutsche Bank and all our partners without whom this demonstration of the potential of renewable energy and new technologies would not have been possible”, added the two Solar Impulse founders in chorus.

Flight report
Pilot: André Borschberg, CEO and Co-founder
Take-off time: 07/07/2010 – 06h51
Landing time: 08/07/2010 – 09:00
Flight duration: 26 hours 09 min
Maximum speed: 68 knots (ground speed)
Average speed: 23 knots
Maximum altitude: 8564 m (above sea-level)

The success of this first night flight by a solar-powered plane is crucial for the further course of the Solar Impulse project. Now that the HB-SIA’s ability to remain flying at night using solar energy stored during the day has been proved, we can start pushing the human and technological limits further. The next important milestones for Solar Impulse will be the crossing the Atlantic and the around the world flight, using the second prototype which goes into construction this summer.


On its way to Sydney

Report on (13 July 2010):

A weekend of wild weather with wind gusts over 60 knots contrasted with the light breezes the Plastiki encountered when she left Noumea last Wednesday to sail the final leg of her epic journey from San Francisco to Sydney. 

The Plastiki,  the 18.2m (60’)  catamaran engineered from approximately 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles and srPET,  a fully and uniquely recyclable material,  originally set sail from San Francisco in March to sail 7,500 nautical miles to Sydney to raise awareness about plastic waste in our oceans. 
With strong winds from the SSE testing the boat’s innovative construction in the toughest conditions encountered during the voyage to date, the Plastiki now has approximately 700 miles to sail to Sydney and is due here late July.   
“Gusts over 60 knots are a fair amount of wind for any boat but Plastiki handled it well,”  skipper, Jo Royle, the only female on board said. 
Other crew members on board Plastiki include:  expedition leader and Adventure Ecology founder, David de Rothschild, co‐skipper David Thomson, Matthew Grey,  Max Jourdan and Vern Moen. 
“We’re really excited to be finally heading for Sydney.  It’s been an amazing voyage seeing first‐ hand the impact of plastic on our oceans and visiting island communities impacted adversely by the waste we all generate.  We know that Australians are deeply concerned about minimising their plastic waste – their actions to embrace reusable shopping bags and even ban plastic water bottles in some communities underscore this,  but there’s much more we can all do,”  David de Rothschild said. 
Made from approx.  12,500 reclaimed plastic PET bottles and featuring the latest in sustainable design technology, the Plastiki is a wonder of engineering and innovation.

“It’s about recognising that waste is fundamentally a design flaw.  If we apply cyclical ‘cradle‐to‐cradle’  philosophies rather than linear thinking we can illuminate waste at source,” David de Rothschild said. 
Once the Plastiki arrives in Sydney, the vessel will be on public display at the Australian National Maritime Museum,  Darling Harbour for one month.  Special events include talks by David de Rothschild and the crew as well as a public open day at the Museum.     
The Plastiki expedition is a platform to fuel conversation and find unique solutions to reduce,  reuse, recycle, rethink and ultimately refuse our use of single use disposable plastic. One of Plastiki’s global goals is to see a reduction in the amount of human made waste heading out to landfill and sea. We believe that with a small shift and some smart thinking it’s achievable if we work together on making small changes in our lives like the MyPlastiki pledge.  
To follow the adventure, feed your curiosity, track the crews’ individual stories, witness the challenges that our oceans and its inhabitants face and learn what you can do for our Planet,  please log into the expedition’s online mission control: for regular updates, GPS positioning, crew blogs, photography and mini‐films.


As at 13 July at midday the Plastiki had been at sea for 115 days, once departing San Francisco, that amounted to 7380 nautical miles and 2760 hours, meanwhile 6900 million plastic bottles had been used in the US alone!

Track the Plastiki on

Leave a Reply