Solar Impulse 2 makes historic landing in Hawaii

André Borschberg’s five-day voyage in solar-powered plane breaks non-stop record

Solar Impulse 2 pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, celebrate after Borschberg landed at Kalaeloa Airport, Hawaii. Photograph: Eugene Tanner/AFP/Getty Images

Solar Impulse 2 pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, celebrate after Borschberg landed at Kalaeloa Airport, Hawaii. Photograph: Eugene Tanner/AFP/Getty Images

 

A Swiss man attempting to circumnavigate the globe with an aircraft powered only by the sun’s energy landed in Hawaii on Friday, after a record-breaking five-day non-stop solo flight across the Pacific Ocean from Japan.

The Solar Impulse 2 is the first aircraft to fly day and night without any fuel. Pilot André Borschberg’s 120-hour voyage shattered the 76-hour record for non-stop flight by late US adventurer Steve Fossett in 2006 on the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer.

Mr Borschberg, who took off from Nagoya, Japan, on Monday on the seventh leg of the journey, landed at 5:55 am (15:55 GMT) on Friday in Kalaeloa after five days and nights.

The aircraft, piloted alternatively by Swiss explorers Mr Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, set off on its 35,000km journey around the world from Abu Dhabi on March 9th.

The next leg would be from Honolulu to Phoenix, Arizona, and then Mr Borschberg and Mr Piccard will fly together across the Atlantic on a return path to Abu Dhabi.

Mr Borschberg navigates alone in an unheated and unpressurized cockpit, sleeping in bursts of 20 minutes while on autopilot.

Addressing the pilot on a live online broadcast from the Solar Impulse Mission Control Center in Monaco, an ecstatic Peter Frei, head of the project’s conceptual design and aerodynamics, congratulated the team on 12 years of work culminating in what he called a historic moment.

“André, what you did is unbelievable,” Mr Frei said. “I can’t even imagine what it takes to be five days up there, with so little sleep and such a complex and crippled aircraft.”

Studies, design and construction took 12 years and a first version of the plane rolled out in 2009 and broke records for heights and distances travelled by a manned solar plane.

The plane was created in order to encourage governments to replace pollutants with clean technology.

“Our airplane has not been built to carry passengers but to convey a message,” says Mr Piccard.

Reuters