A solar-powered airplane on a trek around the world diverted to Tulsa for weather and is staying here because it’s the only airport on its flight path with a big enough hangar.
American Airlines’ Maintenance Base is now lending a hand after it said it got a last minute phone call from the crew Tuesday about the change in course.
Solar Impulse 2 is flying around the world to Abu Dhabi and back. The four electric engines are charged and powered by the solar panels in the wings.
The threat of bad weather forced the crew to look at landing in Tulsa on this leg of the trip instead of Kansas City.
"In this project, there's one thing we learn is that you plan but, as you go into the unknown, you end up changing the plan all the time. You need to be flexible and you need to like to be flexible," said Captain Andre Borschberg.
Borschberg said the plane is more delicate on the ground than in the air and finding a hangar to fit it is crucial.
Jason Johnson at American Airlines' maintenance base got the phone call about the plane’s change in route.
“The sheer size of it. Watching it come in last night...how slow it moves...it was impressive," he said.
The team at American Airlines gave a spot to the Solar Impulse team right in the back of Hangar 80.
While Solar Impulse's entourage works on the next leg of the trip, American Airlines crews are busy with daily maintenance checks on aircraft.
Johnson said, "It's an extra bonus, if you will, that they get to work on American Airlines airplanes, but they also get to see, you know, something that's a piece of history."
Having Solar Impulse parked in a working commercial airline hangar helps show what the future might look like.
"It shows that we have great technology today, but we also need to think about the technology of tomorrow," Borschberg said.
Friday, the Solar Impulse team announced they will host an open day for the public on Sunday, May 15, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at TIA’s American Airlines Hanger 80.
If you’d like to attend, you can register here.