PHOENIX -- It's aviation history in the making! The first manned solar plane is making its way across the nation, and it took off from Sky Harbor Airport here in Phoenix early Wednesday morning.
The "Solar Impulse" is the world's most advanced solar-powered plane. The aircraft landed in the Valley earlier this month, and for the past several weeks, it's been housed in a special tent at Sky Harbor Airport.
Wednesday the Solar Impulse began the second leg of its 2013 Across America Mission. Its next destination is Dallas, TX. That flight takes about 21 hours.
"We’ve been dreaming about crossing the United States for years, the land of scientific research, innovation and aviation pioneers. It's hard to believe it’s really happening," said André Borschberg, Co-Founder, CEO and pilot of Solar Impulse.
The plane has four electric motors powered by the sun. It's the first airplane that can fly day and night without fuel or polluting emissions.
The carbon fiber airplane has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 but only weighs as much as a small car. The 12,000 solar cells built into the wing provide the four motors with renewable energy. By day the solar cells recharge the lithium batteries which allow the plane to fly at night.
By crossing the United States, the company founders are launching the “Clean Generation” initiative – a global awareness-raising movement advocating for greater investment in innovative technologies for sustainable energy production and use.