Solar Impulse 2, an experimental solar-powered aircraft attempting to fly around the world, landed in California over the weekend marking a milestone in its historic journey.
After departing Hawaii two-and-a-half days earlier, Solar Impulse 2 touched down late on Saturday night, local time, at Moffett Airfield after flying majestically over San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge a few hours earlier.
The flight to the west coast of the United States follows an even more impressive endurance effort of five days and five nights from Nagano, Japan, to Hawaii last July. The aircraft cruises at 49 kt by day and 33 kt at night, to save energy. Although the pilot, André Borschberg, set a new solo flight record of just under 118 hours, a ‘human mistake’ badly damaged the aircraft’s batteries, taking nine months to fix.
With new batteries and a new cooling system, the Solar Impulse team hopes to continue across the US mainland—weather permitting—before crossing the Atlantic to Paris, with a return to Abu Dhabi the final destination.
‘What is really special, is that it is the first and only airplane in the world which has unlimited endurance,’ says Borschberg, one of the two pilots of the Solar Impulse 2. ‘To build an airplane of the size of a 747 with the weight of a car, something which was considered impossible by the aviation industry, we had to develop the right mindset in order to push the limits of the technologies.’
The around-the-world attempt by Solar Impulse 2 is part of a wider effort to promote environmentally clean technologies in the hope of reducing global energy consumption and saving natural resources.
You can follow Solar Impulse 2 and find more information via its website.