Pilots continue on epic journey
A solar-powered aeroplane has landed in suburban Phoenix after a day-long flight from California - the latest leg in its around-theworld journey using only energy from the sun.
The Swiss-made Solar Impulse 2 arrived in the suburb of Goodyear, just to the southwest of Phoenix, shortly before 9pm local time on Monday. Pilot Andre Borschberg called the 16-hour trip “a beautiful flight”, after stepping from the cockpit.
“It was a special flight; not a long flight,” he added.
The aircraft took off from Mountain View in northern California shortly after 5am.
It began its globecircling journey last year in Abu Dhabi and flew from Hawaii to the Silicon Valley last week.
After Phoenix, the plane will make two more stops in the US before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Europe or northern Africa, according to the website documenting the journey.
For several minutes after arriving, Borschberg remained aboard as powerful winds buffeted the aircraft, forcing the ground crew to hold it down with straps.
“Sometimes it is more difficult to handle the aeroplanes on the ground than in flight,” he told reporters later.
Video from cameras aboard the aircraft as well as on the ground at the Goodyear airport showed the Solar Impulse as it flew through the night sky on route to its safe touch down southwest of Phoenix.
Hours earlier, shortly after takeoff, Borschberg used his phone to snap photos of the sun coming up along the horizon. Then he prepared for media interviews and made breakfast plans.
“I’m heating up water for coffee,” Borschberg told his ground crew. “A nice Nescafe.”
His co-pilot, Bertrand Piccard, also from Switzerland, made the three-day trip from Hawaii to the heart of Silicon Valley, where he landed last week.
The two legs to cross the Pacific were the riskiest part of the plane’s travels due to the lack of emergency landing sites. “We have demonstrated it is feasible to fly many days, many nights, that the technology works,” said Borschberg, 63, who piloted the plane during a five-day trip from Japan to Hawaii and who kept himself alert by doing yoga poses and meditation.
The crew was forced to stay in Oahu for nine months after the plane’s battery system sustained heat damage on its trip from Japan.
The layovers will give the pilots a chance to swap places and engage with local communities along the way so they can explain the project, which is estimated to cost more than $100 million and began in 2002 to highlight the importance of renewable energy and the spirit of innovation.
LANDED: Andre Borschberg, left, and Bertrand Piccard