May 14 – Bright Future

Today’s Factismal: The Solar Impulse is attempting to fly across America using only solar power, right now!

All too often we forget that the future is happening now but it started long ago. For one example of that, I point you to the Solar Impulse (aka the HB-SIA – engineers have no poetry in their souls). This amazing aircraft is designed to take off, fly, and land using nothing but the solar power it harvests with the 11,628 solar cells on its wings. Though it will never be able to carry anything other than a pilot and a very minimal cargo, the airplane will demonstrate that we have only begun to tap into what can be accomplished.

The Solar Impulse in flight  (Image courtesy Solar Impulse)

The HB-SIA in flight
(Image courtesy Solar Impulse)

But where and when did this airplane start? Perhaps we should point our fingers at Elmer Johnson, who was awarded US patent 3,089,670 for a solar-powered aircraft on May 14, 1963. But Elmer points his finger at others (including one gentleman who wanted to build a solar-powered flying saucer). And, if we follow the line of patents far enough back, we’ll find ourselves looking at a certain patent clerk by the name of Albert Einstein who first deduced how solar power cells work back in 1915.

If you’d like to spend some time looking forward, then why not check out the Solar Impulse?
http://www.solarimpulse.com/en/

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