SolarImpulse - Around The World patch.
May 12, 2016
Solar Impulse 2 airplane (Si2)
The Solar Impulse 2 airplane rose from the warm tarmac at Phoenix Goodyear Airport with Bertrand Piccard at the controls. Direction: Tulsa International Airport. He took off from Arizona at 10:05 AM UTC, 12:05 PM CET, 3:05 AM local time for a journey that is expected to last 17 hours and 50 minutes until landing in Oklahoma.
This flight continues the attempt to complete the first round-the-world solar flights to demonstrate that clean technologies can run the world.
The Challenge: Crossing the Rockies
As you can imagine, flying over the Rocky Mountains is a challenge for an aircraft like Si2. But perhaps not for the reasons you would expect…
Map above: The Rocky Mountains climb to an altitude of 14,440 feet (4,401 meters). These are quite high but definitely not too high for Si2 to handle. During this flight, Bertrand Piccard will be climbing to a height of approximately 24,000 feet with Si2.
Gaining height is therefore not a challenge for Si2, instead it is the special weather conditions above these mountains that create the greatest obstacle.
SolarImpulse Operation Head Quarter
In the morning hours of this flight, the sky will be clear above the mountains, with the strong midwestern sun shining on the Rockies. During the day in the summer, heat gets trapped in the mountains and as we all are familiar with the rules of thermodynamics, heat always rises. In the meteorological world, when the heat that rises contains enough moisture, the air condenses to form cumulus clouds (the white sheep-like bundles you see in the sky).
Over the course of the day, these clouds may have the tendency to accumulate, often forming Cumulonimbus clouds (aka CBs), which are likely to spark thunderstorms. Trust us, we don’t like CBs.
SolarImpulse Mission Director Team
We therefore had to be cautious to find the best time of day to fly over the Rocky Mountains. The cumulus clouds either have to be low enough so that we can fly above them or sparse enough so that we can fly in between them.
For this flight, we have found a good weather window that allows us to cross the Rockies before the clouds build up too much. We are leaving early in order to ensure we cross the Rockies east of Albuquerque and Santa Fe before the bad weather sets in in the early evening hours. We will therefore be flying at the same pace as the good weather window until we arrive with clear skies in Tulsa, Oklahoma!
Watch the flight live: http://www.solarimpulse.com/leg-11-from-Phoenix-to-Tulsa
Video steaming on Youtube: LEG 11 LIVE: Solar Impulse Airplane - InFlight from Phoenix:
For more information about SolarImpulse Around The World, visit: http://www.solarimpulse.com/
Images, Video, Text, Credit: SolarImpulse.