Swiss solar plane proves itself worthy

Jules Verne would be impressed.

The Solar Impulse sailed in for a landing near Bern, Switzerland this week after completing a 24-hour test flight using nothing but the power of the sun.

"The deal is done, we’ve won, we’ve won! HB-SIA and pilot André Borschberg are back from the night skies," wrote Lucas Chambers, a member of the Solar Impulse team, on his blog. "I’m now off to kiss the airplane for you - André might be a bit bushy by now, but I’ll certainly hug him hard. You all go off and pick a sunflower, plant it in your yard, and keep the spirit alive."

Next on the Swiss-led project's agenda is circling the globe.

The plane has a 207-foot wingspan and is powered by four electric motors and designed to fly day and night by saving surplus energy from its 12,000 solar cells in high-performance batteries, according to the Associated Press.

See the Associated Press story in the Fresno Bee.

Bertrand Piccard, psychiatrist and aeronaut who made the first non-stop round-the-world balloon flight, is the initiator and chairman of the project, according to the Web site. André Borschberg, the pilot, is an engineer and graduate in management science. He's a fighter pilot and a professional airplane and helicopter pilot and serves as the CEO. "The former’s avant-gardist vision and the latter’s entrepreneurial and managerial experience are an ideal combination," the site says.