Solar Impulse takes off for six-day, six-night Pacific flight

31 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Round-the-world Solar Impulse starts six-day flight from China to Hawaii.

A view of the Solar Impulse 2 on flight after taking off from Al Bateen Airport in United Arab Emirates on March 9, 2015. (REUTERS/Jean Revillard/Handout via Reuters) Solar Impulse 2 has embarked on the most daunting leg of its epic journey around the world. The single-seater solar-powered plane took off from Nanjing, China, Saturday, the start of a grueling 5,079-mile, five-day flight across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii.

While none of the previous legs were more than 20 hours, the estimated flight time to Hawaii, is 130 hours. “I feel confident about this flight from Nanjing to Hawaii. The plane has a 236-foot wingspan, larger than that of the Boeing 747, but, thanks to the lightweight carbon fiber, weighs about as much as a car at around 5,070 pounds. Ahead of his departure, Borschberg said it was a key point for the project and for his co-pilot for the other legs, Bertrand Piccard: “This is the moment of truth. The aircraft will climb to the altitude of Mount Everest, almost 29,500 feet, during the day to get more sunlight, recharge the batteries and store more energy. Borschberg will experience temperatures ranging from 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the morning to minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit early in the evening while the plane is still high up.

This represents an extraordinary illustration of technological innovation which André initiated and led during the last 12 years.” If all goes well, Piccard is due to take over the controls for the next leg from Hawaii to Phoenix. Borschberg and his fellow Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard are taking it in turns to fly the solar-powered aircraft on its five-month journey across the globe.

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