Solar Impulse Reaches Half Way in Japan-US Leg

Solar Impulse 2 set off from Abu Dhabi earlier this year in a multi-leg attempt to get all the way around the world without a single drop of fuel.


The plane, the Solar Impulse 2, piloted by Swiss pilot André Borschberg, weighs the same as an ordinary sedan auto, but has a 72m wingspan – larger than a Boeing – to carry the more than 17 000 solar cells needed to supply its electric motors with power.

The departure of the Solar Impulse on its seventh leg of its round-the-world trip had to be delayed several times because of bad weather, while the first 10 hours of flight on Monday were made hard, organisers said, by technical problems.

Travelling at altitudes of more than 9,000m, he has to use oxygen tanks to breathe and experiences huge swings in temperature throughout the day.

A plane which is powered completely by solar energy has passed the ‘point of no return, ’ as its pilot attempts to cross open water between Japan and Hawaii.

Borschberg and Solar Impulse 2 team members have been live-tweeting the flight by posting updates about Borschberg’s condition and the plane’s status.

Borschberg plans to use breathing and meditation techniques to help him sleep for his 20-minute naps eight times a day during the flight to Hawaii, according to Fox News.

The propeller-driven plane was scheduled to fly directly from Nanjing in China to Hawaii, but bad weather along the way forced a diversion to Japan that stretched to a month.

Hawaii will be the first destination in the United States for the plane.

Solar Impulse 2 set off from Abu Dhabi in March, and has stopped in Oman, India, Myanmar and Nanjing, China, en route to an unscheduled stop in Nagoya, Japan. It had been waiting for the right conditions to depart before Sunday’s takeoff for Hawaii.

From Hawaii, the Solar Impulse 2 will take-off for Phoenix and is slated to stop in New York before flying over the Atlantic Ocean. “An airplane flying day and night without fuel is more than a spectacular milestone in aviation, it’s the living proof that clean technologies and renewable energies can achieve incredible feats; and that all these energy efficient technologies should now be used globally in order to have a cleaner world”, he said in a statement Monday.


Piccard explained that, should the plane run into difficulties during its round-the-world trip, both he and Borschberg have undertaken extensive emergency training.

Solar Impulse leaves Japan for trans-Pacific crossing