After a two-month, six-city journey hopping across America, Solar Impulse — a fully solar-powered one-man airplane — will finally complete its mission in the early hours of Sunday morning. The plane, which will depart from Washington, D.C., early Saturday morning, will touch down in New York after making a victory lap around the Statue of Liberty.
Solar Impulse is not a typical airplane. The tiny plane weighs in at around the size of a small car, but it boasts a wingspan that rivals a Boeing 747’s. Though the trip would only take a little over an hour in a commercial jet, the plane’s snail pace of 45 miles per hour means it will take much longer. Because of the plane’s low speeds and uncomfortable conditions, Solar Impulse isn’t designed to replace gas-guzzling commercial jets. Instead, its creators Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg want it to set an example as a pioneer of green engineering.
The founding duo plan to set their sights even further once this journey is complete. In 2015, they plan to circumnavigate the globe with a larger model of the eco-friendly plane.