Solar Impulse — the Future Is No Longer What It Used to be

Some icons outlive their origins. A new icon surges these days: the silhouette of Solar Impulse, the immense and majestic aircraft on its way for the first round-the-world solar tour in twelve legs. On March 30th it landed in China, from where it will cross the Pacific, land in the USA and leave New York to cross the Atlantic. Start and finish are in Abu Dhabi, home to the headquarters of IRENA (the International Renewable Energy Agency) and to Masdar City, the solar town conceived by Sir Norman Foster. The Solar Impulse’s route and cockpit notations are available in real time.

Search the web now for “the world’s most famous and recognisable aeroplane” or “one of the most enduring icons of the XX century“. You will find the celebration of the glorious Concorde, the first and last supersonic airliner, in service between 1976 and 2003. Yet, at the turn of the century a grave-marker was placed on that herald of a new era and the foundation-stone set for Solar Impulse. The two revolutionary planes have nothing in common but their iconic character.

First up, the Concorde – Herald of a new era

Politically and physically the Concorde was a heavyweight. A joint-venture financed by the French and British governments, it should have been a mark of pan-European grandeur, although the two governments fought long on the final “e”. It weighed 184 tons, carried 96 tons of kerosene and potentially 100 passengers – but 65 on average. It flew London to New York in three and a half hours at 2200 km/h and at a project cost of 20 billion euro. It boldly predicted: “The future of civil aviation. Arrive before you leave. —> Read More