Solar-powered airplane takes off on Pacific journey

Solar Impulse 2 took off from Nanjing Lukou Airport in China on 31 May bound for Hawaii. The Pacific journey will be the longest and most dangerous leg in the Swiss solar-powered airplane’s journey around the world.

The start of the seventh stage of the round-the-world flight had to be delayed numerous times due to bad weather conditions. But the airplane, powered by 17,000 solar cells, has finally departed for Hawaii.

It will take pilot and Solar Impulse co-founder André Borschberg at least five days and five nights non-stop to reach Hawaii, covering a distance of more than 8,000 kilometres. If successful, it will be the longest flight for a single pilot airplane in duration, ever flown with any type of airplane. Co-pilot Betrand Piccard will be in constant contact with Borschberg from the Mission Control Center in Monaco.

“This is the moment of truth. If successful, this flight to Hawaii will demonstrate the credibility of the vision Bertrand had 16 years ago of an airplane flying for days without fuel to change our mindset regarding the enormous potential of clean technologies and renewable energies,” said Borschberg. “It will be the flight of my life,” he added.

Solar Impulse 2 began its journey around the world in early March in Abu Dhabi, where it also plans to end its historic journey 35,000 kilometres later. From Abu Dhabi, the plane made its way to Oman and then to India, over the Himalayas and on to Nanjing in China. After the first leg of the Pacific crossing to Hawaii, the flight is scheduled to fly to Phoenix, then across the US, the Atlantic, southern Europe and back to the Middle East.

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