Tracking the Solar Impulse 2 on its Journey Around the World

1911_Wright_Glider[1]On Dec. 23, 1986, the Rutan Voyager completed its journey around the world. Built 83 years after the Wright Brothers constructed the first airplane, the Rutan Voyager was the first airplane to make its way around the world without stopping. The coveted flight around the world was not a particularly easy task back then. The very first aerial circumnavigation in 1924 took the United States Army Air Service a little over 175 days to complete. In 1937, Amelia Earhart disappeared over the Pacific attempting the same task.

Solar-Impulse-2-b[1]Airplanes have come a long way since then. Enter: The Solar Impulse 2, the world’s very first solar-powered aircraft to attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Today the Solar Impulse 2 began its five-month journey, taking off from Abu Dabhi earlier this morning. The event is being covered by a large range of news outlets, ranging from broadcast to print to blogs. Here’s how a few of these news outlets are doing in their coverage of the Solar Impulse 2:

2517999816[1]Newspaper: Gulf News has done a very thorough job in its coverage of the Solar Impulse 2, posting a bunch of articles and updates about different aspects of the flight. Their photo galleries and captions provide an angle to the story that other news sites don’t. Their photos also do a great job of showing the human aspect of the story. The problem with the way they present their information (frequent articles) is that you have to do a lot of clicking to get the whole picture, which a lot of people might not have patience for. It would have been more effective if they could have offered a more comprehensive piece to accompany these shorter articles.

_81454910_solar_impulse_624in[1]Broadcast: BBC News offers the most accessible and interactive coverage. The BBC provides a lot of different media ranging from photos to infographics to videos. Unlike other news sites, which simply offer videos of the take-off, the BBC also includes a video guide to the inside of the Solar Impulse 2. The map and the infographic about the differents parts of the plane are really helpful for building an understanding of how

Blog:‘s coverage of the Solar Impulse 2 is pretty brief and a little scarce, including only one photo and no other media. What it does well is it succinctly wraps up the most important information and goes over the technical aspects of the flight with a little more authority than the other news outlets mentioned. It also does a good job outlining the hardships the airplane will face on its long journey across the world.

In terms of social media, I think it would work best to show examples of how these news sites used social media side-by-side.

gulf wired

amosJonathan Amos at the BBC had a more exciting approach to tweeting about the Solar Impulse 2 than the writers at Wired and Gulf News. Rather than simply type in a headline and toss in a cool pic, Amos teased his followers with exclusive information, giving the BBC an edge on social media.

Overall, I think the BBC did the best job balancing background, technical information and logistics in a compelling and easy-to-read way.


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