So­lar pow­ered air­plane lands in Hawaii

Record break­ing five-day flight from Ja­pan

Cape Breton Post - - CLASSIFIEDS/WORLD -

A plane pow­ered by the sun’s rays landed in Hawaii Fri­day af­ter a record-break­ing five-day jour­ney across the Pa­cific Ocean from Ja­pan.

Pi­lot An­dre Borschberg and his sin­gle-seat air­craft landed at Kalaeloa, a small air­port out­side Honolulu. His nearly 118-hour voy­age from Nagoya broke the record for the world’s long­est non­stop solo flight, his team said. The late U.S. ad­ven­turer Steve Fos­sett set the pre­vi­ous record of 76 hours when he flew a spe­cially-de­signed jet around the globe in 2006.

But Borschberg flew the So­lar Im­pulse 2 with­out fuel. In­stead, its wings were equipped with 17,000 so­lar cells that charged bat­ter­ies. The plane ran on stored energy at night.

The engine­less air­craft landed in si­lence, the only sound the hum of a nearby he­li­copter. About 200 peo­ple, in­clud­ing the media, wit­nessed the touch­down shortly be­fore 6 a.m.

Later in the morn­ing, Borschberg called the flight an ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­pe­ri­ence, say­ing it marked his­tor­i­cal firsts for avi­a­tion and for re­new­able energy.

“No­body now can say that re­new­able en­er­gies can­not do the im­pos­si­ble,'' he said. Asked what was the most chal­leng­ing part of the jour­ney, he said it was when he and fel­low Swiss co-pi­lot Ber­trand Pic­card had to de­cide when ex­actly to leave Ja­pan, which he called a tough deci- sion.

Borschberg, who did yoga up to 45 min­utes daily to counter the ef­fects of im­mo­bil­ity and stay fit, re­mained in the plane for about an hour be­fore fi­nally emerg­ing. Be­fore ex­it­ing, he was ap­proached by cus­toms per­son­nel who asked to see his pass­port. Some in the wait­ing crowd waved Swiss flags, and dig­ni­taries shook his hand. Pic­card also greeted him and six girls sang a wel­com­ing song in Hawai­ian.

Ground crews pushed the plane to­ward a hangar, where a cel­e­bra­tory at­ti­tude waited along with leis and hula dancers.

The plane’s ideal flight speed is about 28 mph though that can dou­ble dur­ing the day when sun’s rays are strong­est. The car­bon-fiber air­craft weighs over 5,000 pounds or about as much as a mini­van or mid-sized truck.

Borschberg and Pic­card have been tak­ing turns fly­ing the plane on an around-the-world trip since tak­ing off from Abu Dhabi in March. Af­ter Hawaii, the plane will head to Phoenix and then New York. Pic­card will make the flight to Phoenix, or­ga­niz­ers said in a press re­lease.

The pro­ject, which be­gan in 2002 and is es­ti­mated to cost more than $100 mil­lion, is meant to high­light the im­por­tance of re­new­able energy and the spirit of in­no­va­tion. So­lar­pow­ered air travel is not yet com­mer­cially prac­ti­cal, how­ever, given the slow travel time, weather and weight con­straints of the air­craft.

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