Solar-powered plane to end symbolic journey across US

1 / 2
2 / 2
Updated 05 July 2013
0

Solar-powered plane to end symbolic journey across US

WASHINGTON: In noisy, energetic New York City, the pilots of a spindly plane that looks more toy than jet hope to grab attention in a surprising way: By being silent and consuming little energy.
This revolutionary solar-powered plane is about to end a slow and symbolic journey across America by quietly buzzing the Statue of Liberty and landing in a city whose buildings often obscure the power-giving sun. The plane’s top speed of 45 mph (73 kph) is so pokey, it would earn honks on the highway.
The plane is called Solar Impulse. And it leaves from Washington on a commuter-like hop planned for tomorrow, depending on the weather. It will take hours for the journey and offers none of the most basic comforts of flying.
But that’s OK. The aircraft’s creators say its purpose really has little to do with flying.
They view themselves as green pioneers — promoting lighter materials and solar-powered batteries. Theirs is the high-flying equivalent of the Tesla electric sports car. They want people to feel a thrill while saving the planet. Think Charles Lindbergh meets Rachel Carson.
And if there’s one person who knows about adventure and what it means to Earth, it’s Bertrand Piccard.
He’s one of the two pilots who take turns flying Solar Impulse. His grandfather was the first man to see the curve of the Earth as a pioneering high-altitude balloon flier more than 80 years ago. His father more than half a century ago first took a submarine to the deepest and most inaccessible ocean trench on Earth.
And now in the 21st Century outside the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum annex not too far from a retired space shuttle, Piccard says there’s no truly new place on Earth for explorers to pioneer. At 55, he’s tried.
He already was the first person to fly around the world non-stop in a balloon, but that wasn’t really enough. So Piccard found a way to explore by looking inward and acting globally.




“It’s an exploration of new ways of thinking,” said Piccard, who is also a psychiatrist. “It’s important to understand that pioneering is not only what you do. It’s how you think. It’s a state of mind more than action.”
For him, there was no better cause than clean technology.
“After a conquest of the planet, the 21st Century should be about improving the quality of life,” Piccard said. And the lightweight beanpole that’s called Solar Impulse “is something spectacular in order to capture the attention of the people. If you make a solar bicycle to drive, nobody would care. If you make a solar plane, everybody cares. Everybody wants to see it.”
Europe saw it first with a test flight from Switzerland and Spain to Morocco last year.


‘Kim Jong Un’ poses for selfies in Singapore ahead of Trump summit

Updated 28 May 2018
0

‘Kim Jong Un’ poses for selfies in Singapore ahead of Trump summit

SINGAPORE: Surprised Singaporeans pursued North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday before realizing the portly man with slick black hair near the Marina Bay Sands hotel was an impersonator.
“It looked like the real Kim Jong Un, but later I realized it’s not the real one,” said Sagar Admuthe who was visiting from Mumbai, India, after several selfies with the doppleganger against a backdrop of the city’s bay.
“When you see him, it’s very difficult to make out.”
The Australian-Chinese man posing as the North Korean leader calls himself only Howard X and said he was appearing to wish success for a summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump to negotiate an end to the North’s nuclear program.
Howard X also made an appearance as Kim at the Winter Olympics in Gangneung in South Korea in February, bewildering North Korean cheerleaders who initially thought their leader had walked into a hockey stadium.
“I think the two leaders will sit down and they’re going to have a great time, because really they have the same personality,” he said on Sunday. “They are going to be best friends right after this meeting.”|
Trump signalled that preparations for a June 12 summit with Kim were going ahead, despite having called it off last week, and a White House team was scheduled to depart for Singapore this weekend to prepare for the possible summit.
Howard X said Kim’s rise as the third leader of North Korea in 2011 has proved lucrative for him, jump starting a new career in films, commercials and private functions, most often in his home town of Hong Kong.
“I said that guy looks a lot like me, and I thought, wow, I need to do something with this and make some money,” Howard X added.
“This is my normal body,” he said, when asked if he had to put on weight to impersonate the North’s leader. “But he’s fatter, and I can’t catch up ... it’ll damage my health.”
Howard X, who is a musician by training and said he still produces Brazilian music sung in Chinese, said his partner known as Dennis Alan impersonates Trump. Although he could not join him this week, both will return before the summit.
“Hey Donald, I’m already in Singapore, waiting for you to turn up,” Howard X said.