Solar Impulse Flies Through the Night!

Given that this news is the lead story on the NYT site right now, it's not exactly secret. But: having chronicled earlier steps in this direction, here and here, I can't resist celebrating the announcement that the experimental Solar Impulse airplane has completed a 26-hour nonstop flight in Switzerland, without using a drop of gasoline. Obviously this included the nighttime hours too, during which time the plane ran on energy collected from panels on its wings during the daytime and stored in its own batteries.

A charming interview video with the international crew  involved with the flight is available at the company's home page, here. (Doesn't seem to be embeddable.) Charming because of the evident -- and justified -- pride; the equally evident adrenaline-offset fatigue from small flight crew and large ground staff who had all been up around the clock; and a few nice cross cultural touches. Eg, a man nicely declining an interview: "Je suis désolé, I am sorry, I speak uniquely French."  A wonderful achievement. Photo from the company's site below. From my China-based aviator-journalist friend Michele Travierso here.


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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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