Tony Thomas at The Spectator here has written an excellent summary on the Solar Impulse 2 plane and how the attempted journey around the world has gone so far. I’ve written on this before here, here and here.
If anything the $250 million dollar project has turned into nothing less than an engineering basket case, run by two men who seem to be in midlife crisis. How many simple schools could be built in Africa with that kind of money?
The Airbus A380 dimensioned solar-powered contraption has been grounded in Hawaii, some 10 months after it began its trip in Abu Dhabi last March. Notable comments by Thomas in the Spectator article:
The fuel-free plane was meant to show the delicious potential of clean solar energy, ‘therapy for the planet’ and a climate-change stopper, […]. The solar plane’s actually demonstrated the superiority of a few drums of avgas.”
It was held up at Nagoya for a month waiting for favorable winds, much like a 17th century galleon.
Piccard says, ‘What we have here is the future’.
That would be progress going backwards in high gear. Thomas reminds us early devices did the trip far more quickly: “The Graf Zeppelin in 21 days in 1929“, and “Someone could walk the plane’s route (somehow) in two years, not much longer than the flight time.”
Of course pilot and project pitchman Piccard does not see it that way, and promotes the months-long grounded plane as breakthrough technology:
If there ever was a symbol of green delusionism, Solar Impulse 2 is it.