Solar-Powered Plane Takes Three-Day Flight Over Pacific

June 15, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. traverse / trəˈvɜrs / (v.) – to pass over or move across
Example: Several ships traversed the ocean.

2. nonstop / ˈnɒnˈstɒp / (adv.) – without pausing or stopping
Example: We drove nonstop just to get there on time.

3. take turns / teɪk tɜrns / (v. phrase) – to do something one after another
Example: My sister and I take turns in doing the laundry.

4. practical / ˈpræk tɪ kəl / (adj.) – reasonable or realistic
ExampleCommuting via public transportation is sometimes more practical than driving a car.

5. capacity / kəˈpæs ɪ ti / (n.) – ability to contain a number of people or things
Example: The bus has a large seating capacity.


Read the text below.
The Solar Impulse 2, an aircraft that runs on only solar energy, traversed the Pacific Ocean for three days straight.

The aircraft took off from Hawaii on April 21. It then landed south of San Francisco, California, on April 23 after flying nonstop for 62 hours. A typical Hawaii to California flight takes only around five hours because commercial aircraft can fly up to 500 mph. The Solar Impulse 2, on the other hand, flies at only 28 mph, but its speed can double when the sun is high.

The aircraft’s journey across the Pacific was dangerous because there were no emergency landing sites between its origin and destination. The said flight is the 9th stage of the Solar Impulse project, a 10-stage journey around the world using only solar energy.

The project was spearheaded by Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, who took turns flying the Solar Impulse 2 alone. The aircraft is built with a wingspan of 71.9 meters. It contains 17,248 solar cells on its wings and runs using solar energy stored in its battery at night.

The Solar Impulse project aims to promote clean and safe alternative energy sources. However, using a solar aircraft is not yet practical for commercial air travel because of its low speed, small capacity, and many other limitations.

The Solar Impulse 2 once needed to stay in Hawaii for nine months for repairs because its battery overheated. This is after the aircraft set a record for flying continuously for 118 hours from Nagoya, Japan to Hawaii. The Solar Impulse aims to return to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where the journey began in March last year. 

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         If you were to travel the world, what vehicle would you like to use? Why?
·         Are you willing to travel in an aircraft for hours on your own? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What other interesting sources of energy do you know of?
·         What other devices would you want to be solar-powered?

June 15, 2016