Solar plane departs China for its toughest journey to Hawaii

31 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Everything You Need To Know About Solar Impulse’s Most Challenging Flight To DateThe revolutionary Solar Impulse 2 aircraft took off early Sunday for a six-day, six-night flight over the Pacific Ocean, the most ambitious leg of its quest to circumnavigate the globe powered only by the sun.The plane took off from eastern China’s Nanjing after more than a month of delay to complete the most challenging leg yet of its Round The World adventure: the crossing of the Pacific via Hawaii. Pilot Andre Borschberg, 62, left the ground in Nanjing, in eastern China, heading for the US island of Hawaii, at about 2:40am (1840 GMT), after extended delays awaiting a suitable weather window over safety concerns. The 8,500 kilometre (5,270 mile) flight could set a record for duration by a single pilot, organisers said. “We have a good weather window, which means we have a stable corridor to reach Hawaii,” he said, shortly before climbing into the cockpit to test the instruments.

No ship will trail the plane as it is far too fast for a maritime vessel to keep up with, even though its maximum speed of 140 kilometres (87 miles) an hour is much slower than conventional jet aircraft. Planners had identified airports in Japan should the plane need to make a stop because of technical problems, but the open ocean offered no such possibility, he said. The plane is the successor of Solar Impulse, which notched up a 26-hour flight in 2010, proving its ability to store enough power in lithium batteries during the day to keep flying at night.

Ridiculed by the aviation industry when it was first unveiled, the Solar Impulse venture has since been hailed around the world, including by UN chief Ban Ki-moon. “Now is the moment just to demonstrate what this airplane can do — fly day and night with no fuel,” Bertrand Piccard, who has flown the Solar Impulse on other stages of the voyage, told reporters by video link.

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