The Solar Impulse is seen after landing from a test flight at Moffett Field NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., Friday, April 19, 2013. A solar-powered plane that has wowed aviation fans in Europe is set to take an early morning test flight over the San Francisco Bay area. Considered the world's most advanced sun-powered plane, the Solar�Impulse is set to take off from Moffett Field in Mountain View at first light for a two-hour practice run leading up to the start of a multi-city, cross-country tour. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
KTVU and Wires
SAN FRANCISCO —
A solar-powered plane soared in the Bay Area skies Tuesday, racing an incoming fog bank for a planned flyover of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The lightweight plane, which has a wingspan of 208 feet, planned to be about 3,000 feet in the air as it flies above the bridge sometime between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., said Alexandra Gindroz, spokeswoman for the Swiss firm Solar Impulse, which owns the plane.
"It's quite high but you should be able to see something up there," Gindroz said.
The plane, which weighs only about 3,500 pounds, runs completely on power from the sun drawn from 12,000 solar cells on the craft that send energy into batteries that power propellers running on four electric motors.
Tuesday's flight is a technical test run to prepare for a planned cross-country trip beginning in early May. On the first leg of the trip, the plane will depart from the Bay Area and head to Phoenix, Gindroz said.
But the test run is also about something more.
"For us, it's really a message to fly over the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Area," she said. "It means that we are here and it's a landmark."
The plane was created by pilot Andre Borschberg in Payerne, Switzerland, and the flight path will take it to Dallas, Atlanta and finally to New York in early July.
The plane reaches a top speed of 43 mph and holds the record for altitude for solar-powered planes at 30,300 feet, according to the company's website.
Solar Impulse is planning an even longer around-the-globe flight in 2015.
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.