Solar Impulse smashes records on trans-Pacific leg



Solar Impulse 2, the aircraft on a pioneering solar-powered navigation of the globe, has thrown off a recent run of poor luck to break several world records on its leg between Japan and Hawaii.

Bad weather had forced the plane to make an unscheduled stopover in Japan en route from China and then struck again last week as it prepared to take off for its longest single stage over the Pacific Ocean.

But after a successful take-off earlier this week, Solar Impulse has now been in flight for over three days and nights, in the process breaking the world record for the longest and furthest solar-powered flight, which previously stood at 80 hours and 5663km.

Pilot André Borschberg has also broken the record for the longest solo flight, and will achieve the longest non-stop solo flight without refuelling in terms of duration. This record was previously held by American adventurer Steve Fossett, who took 76 hours to complete his non-stop circumnavigation of the globe in the 2006 Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer expedition.

In total Solar Impulse is expected to fly for around 120 hours to complete its journey to Hawaii.

Bertrand Piccard, initiator, chairman and pilot of Solar Impulse, said: “Can you imagine that a solar powered airplane without fuel can now fly longer than a jet plane! This is a clear message that clean technologies can achieve impossible goals!”

Describing the conditions in the cockpit, Borschberg said: “The first 24 hours were very technical, but the second day was really getting me into the mission. It took me a while to create a relationship of trust with the airplane, which allows me to rest and eventually sleep by periods of 20 minutes with the autopilot. The experience of flight is so intense that I can only focus on the present moment and discover how to deal with my own energy and mindset.”

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