Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is the final airport chosen for a stopover during the upcoming cross country flight of the Solar Impulse, the first aircraft capable of flying 24 hours day and night powered exclusively by solar energy. The Solar Impulse Across America flight could begin within days departing from San Francisco’s Moffett Field. Lambert will be the Midwest US stop with a tentative arrival around the end of May. The flight plan also includes stops at Phoenix Sky Harbor, Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington DC-Dulles and New York’s JFK, where it will conclude its historic journey without using a single drop of fuel.
Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, Swiss pilots and founders of Solar Impulse, are taking turns in flying the revolutionary aircraft across the U.S. in preparation for an even bigger goal of a zero-fuel flight around the world in 2015.
"For Solar Impulse the choice of St. Louis is an obvious one: it is a homage to all the pioneers, starting from Charles Lindbergh, who have contributed to the development of aviation," said Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg in a joint statement.
“The history of flight is traced through our city with the support of Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight in the Spirit of St. Louis nearly 90 years ago,” said Lambert Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge. “We are extremely proud to host a new aerial wonder as it demonstrates the next generation of aviation technologies.”
Solar Impulse is a prototype carbon fiber airplane with a wingspan of a jumbo jet (208ft) and the weight of a small car (3,500 lbs.). The aircraft is powered by 12,000 solar cells built into its wings which provide power to four 10hp electric motors. Solar cells recharge the aircraft’s lithium batteries during the day flight which allows the plane to continue flying at night.
“A flying laboratory for clean technologies, this prototype is the result of seven years of intense work in the fields of materials science, energy management and man-machine interface. Many of these technologies can also be applied to sectors beyond aviation,” said Piccard and Borschberg.
Lambert is now working with the Solar Impulse team on the logistics of the plane’s arrival. One of the key considerations for the stop-over was a secure shelter for the aircraft during the St. Louis layover. The aircraft will be parked inside an existing Lambert hangar now being considered for development for future cargo and logistics operations.
The 246,000 sq. ft. facility, formerly owned by Boeing and McDonnell Douglas, has a 40ft high bay entry and space to clear the wingspan of the Solar Impulse. Special events and a public viewing are now in the planning stages for the Solar Impulse stop in St. Louis. The flights will also be live streamed on the Solar Impulse’s website http://www.solarimpulse.com/en/tag/across-america.
Avoid parking fees the next time you pick up a passenger. Lambert provides free waiting zones for motorists near each terminal.