There's just no other way to put it: People around Dallas/Ft. Worth were freaking out at the sight of the Solar Impulse. With the row of LED lights along the leading edge of its wing and its middle-of-the-night and nearly standstill approach into D/FW Airport last week, it looked for all the world like a flying saucer. (Or at least what we assume a flying saucer would look like.)
In the case of the Solar Impulse, science fact is as intriguing as science fiction. The airplane, with two men aboard, had made a 20-hour flight from Arizona to North Texas without burning any fuel and without generating a trace of pollution. It was part of a cross-country trip meant to prove that the technology actually works. And it did!
As modernistic and sleek as the Solar Impulse looked sitting on the tarmac at D/FW, it may be the modern-day equivalent of the Wright Brothers' first powered aircraft. We're a long way from full-scale, solar airliners, but your grandchldren might not be. They may sail across the skies in high-speed comfort, neither consuming nor expelling anything more than sunlight.