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Solar Impulse 2 Makes Stop at Phoenix Goodyear Airport as Part of Around-the-World Journey

by Public Relations | Published On: May 18, 2016 | Last Updated: 
Solar Impulse 2 on approach to Phoenix Goodyear Airport

Phoenix Goodyear Airport Manager Joe Husband said the West Valley facility had welcomed scores of high-profile NASCAR drivers, Super Bowl VIPs and several, unique international aircraft over the years.But the visit in early May of Solar Impulse 2– a solar-powered airplane making a trip around the world – was something entirely different.

“This was a historic flight…right up on par with the Wright Brothers,” says Husband. “It is the first solar-powered aircraft making a trip around the world – something that has never been done before.”

Husband said his team invested countless hours and meetings with City of Phoenix Aviation Department staff for more than two months preparing for the arrival of the Solar Impulse 2.

Solar Impulse 2 coming to a stop at GYRTo house the aircraft, the Solar Impulse 2 advance team erected a special air-conditioned tent that measured 100 feet long by 300 feet wide. It was there where more than 6,000 visitors and curiosity-seekers sought a close-up viewing of the Swiss-made aircraft.

For many, the viewing made an indelible and lifetime impression. The aircraft has a wingspan of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet, the weight of a family car, the power of a small motorcycle and more than 17,000 solar cells.

“It was an extraordinary mix of people that represented all walks of life that saw the aircraft,” said Husband. “From little children in strollers to doctors and lawyers and everything in-between. The plane seemed to have universal appeal.”

André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard

According to the Solar Impulse 2 website, the aircraft’s team had to make maximum use of every single watt supplied by the sun and stored on the plane’s batteries. The first iteration of the solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse 1, landed at Phoenix Sky Harbor in May 2013 during its attempt that year to fly across the United States.

Husband said he was unable to see that aircraft, so being intimately involved with the Solar Impulse 2 aircraft was personally memorable and incomparable. He noted that many of the Swiss team accompanying the aircraft were pilot themselves, and took advantage of their stay to fly over and visit many parts of the state.

The Phoenix Goodyear Airport manager predicts that Arizona has not seen the last of solar-powered aircraft.

“It’s a technology that continues to grow,” he said. “If they don’t come back, somebody else will, I’m sure.”