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July 11, 2013

Solar Powered Plane Finishes Historical Journey In NYC

New York (AP) - A solar-powered aircraft has completed the final leg of a history-making cross-country flight, gliding to a smooth stop at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The Solar Impulse touched down at JFK at 11:09 p.m. Saturday, completing the final leg of the cross-continental journey that started in California in early May. For Saturday's final leg, the aircraft left Dulles International Airport a little before 5 a.m.

The flight plan for the revolutionary plane, powered by some 11,000 solar cells on its oversized wings, had called for it to pass the Statue of Liberty before landing early Sunday at New York. But an unexpected tear discovered on the left wing of the aircraft Saturday afternoon forced officials to scuttle the fly-by and proceed directly to JFK for a landing three hours earlier than scheduled.

Pilot Andre Borschberg trumpeted the milestone of a plane capable of flying during the day and night, powered by solar energy, crossing the U.S. without the use of fuel.

``It was a huge success for renewable energy,'' Borschberg said while standing in front of Solar Impulse on the runway at JFK. ``The only thing that failed was a piece of fabric.''
Bertrand Piccard, the other pilot who took turns flying the Solar Impulse across the United States, said the flight across the country tested the entire project team.

``Flying coast-to-coast has always been a mythical milestone full of challenges for aviation pioneers,'' Piccard said.

Solar Impulse Flight

``During this journey, we had to find solutions for a lot of unforeseen situations, which obliged us to develop new skills and strategies. In doing so, we also pushed the boundaries of clean technologies and renewable energies to unprecedented levels.''

Borschberg noticed balance issues with the wing in the early afternoon Saturday off the coast of Toms River, New Jersey, said Alenka Zibetto, a spokeswoman for Solar Impulse.
Officials said the pilot and aircraft didn't appear to be in danger. They said the eight-foot tear on the lower left side of the wing wasn't expected to worsen through the final portion of the trip.

``It was supposed to be the shortest and easiest leg,'' Piccard said. ``It was the most difficult one.''

Piccard said in addition to the wing issue, another problem with the landing was Borschberg's lack of air breaks to avoid making turbulence in the wing with the tear.
Despite the relatively short distance, Saturday's commuter-like hop was a long flight that lasted 18 hours and 23 minutes. The slow-flying aircraft was traveling between two of the world's busiest airports and was required to take off very early in the morning and land very late at night, when air traffic is at a minimum.

``This is a leg where everybody is quite moved,'' Piccard said shortly after the plane was in the air over Washington early Saturday.

The aircraft soars to 30,000 feet (9,000 meters) while poking along at a top speed of 45 mph (72 kph). Most of the 11,000 solar cells are on the super-long wings that seem to stretch as far as a jumbo jet's. It weighs about the size of a small car, and soars with what is essentially the power of a small motorized scooter.

The Solar Impulse left San Francisco in early May and has made stopovers in Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Dulles.

The cross-country flight is a tuneup for a planned 2015 flight around the globe with an up-graded version of the plane.

Solar Impulse's creators view themselves as green pioneers, promoting lighter materials, solar-powered batteries, and conservation as sexy and adventurous. Theirs is the high-flying equivalent of the Tesla electric sports car.

Europe saw the solar plane first with a test flight from Switzerland and Spain to Morocco last year.
Promoted as solar-powered, what really pushes the envelope with this plane is its miserly energy efficiency, Borschberg said before the flight.

Raising Butterflies Is Spiritual Medicine For SC Man

By Rob Cottingham

Sumter, SC (AP) - Historically, man has learned to raise, cultivate and domesticate many of Earth's creatures. If a list were to be made, it would be apparent there's no limit to the kinds of creatures raised for profit or as a hobby.

In Bill Robinson's case, it was a hobby that became a small business. He also chose one of nature's most delicate inhabitants.

Robinson, a resident of the Paxville community, spends his free time raising butterflies - monarch butterflies, to be exact - and sells them.

``You'd be surprised just how in demand they are,'' he said. ``I get orders from all over the country for them.''

Monarch butterflies are incredibly high maintenance, requiring a lot of work and patience. The well-being of each and every one of the insects demands one-on-one attention, and as taxing as it might seem, Robinson devotes much of his time to his livestock with ease. Having an emotional connection to the concept seems to overrule any frustration.

Bill Robinson

The project has always had a sentimental connection for Robinson, who began raising butterflies for his wife, Darlene, in 2003.

``She had cancer and was very ill,'' he said. ``A bishop at our church in Florida suggested we start a butterfly garden as a form of therapy for her, something that would be an escape from her suffering.''
Robinson got to work immediately, gathering all the information he could before he began the project. Soon, he had things in working order, and the first caterpillars hatched from their eggs and began feeding.

Unfortunately, before those pods could hatch, his wife passed away in September 2004.

``She never got to see any of the butterflies,'' Robinson said with a heavy heart. ``But when I saw them emerge from the chrysalises, myself, it was soothing, almost like it healed me a little.''

That spiritually medicinal element became the heart of Robinson's project, which became the small business it is today.

``As it did with me, the sight of butterflies fluttering seems to bring peace to the troubled minds who buy them,'' he said.

Watching and actively participating in the growth and maturity of the butterflies has been inspiring for Robinson on a composite spiritual and scientific level, as well.

``Nature is infinitely wonderful,'' he said. ``There are some things for which mankind has no explanation in terms of `why' or exactly `how' things occur. It never ceases to amaze me.''

Robinson makes it a point to share that wonder with others, including children. He regularly visits schools for events such as Earth Day, and his presentations are a hit with the children.

Monarch Butterfly

``They enjoy it quite a bit,'' he said. ``I bring several caterpillars and butterflies with me each time. Their faces light up when I release the butterflies.''

The 74-year-old man can recall several instances in which his product and his personal effort had a great impact on a customer. In turn, their joyous reactions affected him.
``Not too long ago, a lady called from Greenwood,'' Robinson said. ``She wanted butterflies for her friend's funeral.''
There was only one problem. It was already 4 p.m., and she needed them that day.

Instead of apologizing and declining the sale, Robinson decided he should help.

```Give me an hour to get moving, and I'll be on my way,''' he recalled telling her. ```Just give me money for gas, and I'll have them to you tonight.'''

Robinson made his way to Greenwood and delivered the butterflies. The elderly customer invited him to come along, so he joined them at the grave site, where the deceased friend's four grandchildren released their butterflies.

``It touches you,'' Robinson said. ``It seemed to do even more for them.''

In another instance, Robinson delivered butterflies to a church in Spartanburg where church
members who had lost family members to cancer held a memorial service to remember and grieve for the ones they lost. Thirty people released butterflies, each representing their departed family member. ``It was beautiful,'' Robinson said.

Seeing what the butterflies do for people firsthand on numerous occasions constantly revives Robinson's drive and fuels him to grow his business.

``It does so much for people emotionally,'' he said. ``It's why we do it.''

More People Are Donating Bodies To Science

By Meagan Pant

Fairborn, Ohio (AP) - Gabriele Carroll was uncomfortable when her father first suggested that he and his wife donate their bodies to science after their deaths. But today, she feels much differently.

Wright State University hosted a ``beautiful ceremony'' for her parents and gave them a ``peaceful'' resting place on campus, Carroll said. And now she finds hope that the medical students will be able to use her parents' illnesses to one day find a cure.

That kind of positive testimonial could be behind the rapid rise in Dayton area residents wishing to donate their bodies to Wright State's Boonshoft School of Medicine, so many that the program has had to close to new registrants for the time being.

Enrollment has nearly tripled in the last decade to about 11,000 people, said Dan Miska, director of the anatomical gift program. That is more than Ohio State University College of Medicine's 4,100 registered donors and nearly as many as the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine's 12,000. Both OSU and UC are still taking new donors, according to the schools, and both programs have experienced increases in people enrolling. There are seven anatomical gift programs in Ohio that are affiliated with university medical school programs.

Miska said he does not know why Wright State has seen such a sharp increase in registrants. But future donors say they want to make a difference and ease the burden, including the financial costs of a funeral, on their families after their deaths.

``It's kind of courageous when you're still living to make a decision like that,'' said Carroll, who left flowers at the Rockafield Cemetery on Thursday, the anniversary of losing her mother, Gertrud Gill, to Parkinson's disease in 2006. Her father, Walter Gill, passed away in 1993 from cancer, which attached to his spleen.

``It's never a very easy time when you lose somebody,'' the Fairborn resident said. ``But it kind of helps that they're doing something.''

Miska said the donation program is ``hugely important.'' It has been in place since 1975 and totaled 20,000 registered donors, he said.

``It's extremely important to the school of medicine and to the local medical community,'' he said.
During the annual memorial program, Miska tells families: ``If a student were to see only one anatomical donor during his or her training, that single donor could have an impact on over 175,000 patient interactions by the end of their career.

``It is an amazing gift.''

Peter Wine said he decided to donate his body to Wright State after suffering a health scare in 2008. His father, Joe, was a donor after succumbing to cancer in 1990.

``He was always a very giving, very community-oriented person,'' Peter Wine said of his father. ``And I can't imagine anything more helpful to the community than being able to be somehow a link between a problem and a solution from a medical standpoint. And that's basically what you're doing. You can be part of a process that allows them to find either the new best doctor in the world or the solution to a medical issue. ``

Lois Anderson said many of her family members have been donors. She and her husband registered about 20 years ago, and she said she would have been disappointed if the program was full at that time.

``Part of that is having a useful purpose for our physical body once we're through with it,'' she said. ``If it can serve some purpose, we thought that's a good thing to do.''

Peggy Gamble said she decided to become a future donor shortly after her divorce. ``My two sons would be responsible for my funeral, burial and all involved with my death. The boys having that responsibility bothered me. I did not want them emotionally or financially burdened because of me,'' she said.

Becoming a donor eased that worry, but ``more importantly I was giving a gift to future generations,'' she said.

 


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