The nation's energy secretary says a solar-powered plane that landed outside Washington early Sunday will one day offer a payoff for people on the ground.
The spindly one-man craft called Solar Impulse has been flying cross-country in short hops as part of a 13-year privately funded European project. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz praised the effort at a news conference Monday at Dulles International airport where the plane landed.
He said the plane's cutting-edge technology will improve energy use in cars and buildings by leading to better solar cells and batteries, electric motors, lightweight material and general efficiencies.
News4's Adam Tuss spoke with Bertrand Piccard, the pilot of the Solar Impulse. Many Washingtonians thought the plane flying in this weekend was a UFO at first and Piccard admits that's exactly what he wanted to happen.
"I did a little bit [more with the lights] on purpose," Piccard said. "Here and there I ignited the 16 landing lamps when I was flying and I was sure some people would believe it is a UFO."
"Yeah, I was communicating with the people down there," Piccard joked.
The plane, which left St. Louis on Friday, will finish its test flight across America later this month when it files to New York.