Solar Impulse has become the first aircraft capable of flying both day and night using only solar power to cross the USA.

The brainchild of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg of Switzerland successfully landed at JFK Airport on 6 July, three hours earlier than planned.

The orginal plan was to fly a ‘victory lap’ over Manhattan, but a rip in the fabric on the lower side of the left wing forced a change of plan.

In a statement on the team’s blog André Borschberg – who flew the final leg – said:

“This last leg was especially difficult due to the damage of the fabric on the left wing. It obliged the team to envisage all the possible scenarios, including bailing out over the Atlantic. But this type of problem is inherent to every experimental endeavour. In the end, this didn’t prevent us from succeeding in our Across America mission and provided an invaluable learning experience in preparation for the round-the-world tour in 2015.

“We extend our gratitude to all airport and government authorities whose precious support made this mission possible.”

Solar Impulse took off from San Francisco, California on 3 May, and stopped off in Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Washington D.C, before reaching its final destination – New York. According to Solar Impulse’s website, the journey of 3511 miles took a total of 105 hours 41 minutes at an average speed of 28.8 knots.

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