Solar Plane Begins Marathon Pacific Flight

Solar Plane Begins Marathon Pacific Flight

The revolutionary Solar Impulse 2 aircraft took off early Sunday for a six-day continuous flight over the Pacific Ocean, the most ambitious leg of its quest to circumnavigate the globe powered only by the sun.
Pilot Andre Borschberg, 62, left the ground in Nanjing, in eastern China, heading for the US island of Hawaii, at about 2:40 a.m. local time, after extended delays awaiting a suitable weather window over safety concerns.
Lit by white lights on its wings, the plane rolled down the runway before climbing into a misty sky with its four whirling propellers nearly silent. The 8,500km flight is expected to take an estimated 130 hours, organizers said, AFP reported.
“I cross my fingers and I hope to cross the Pacific,” Borschberg told reporters just hours before the take-off. “We have a good weather window, which means we have a stable corridor to reach Hawaii,” he said, shortly before climbing into the cockpit to test the instruments.
It is the seventh and longest section of the maiden solar-powered global circumnavigation, an attempt to promote green energy. The journey began in Abu Dhabi in March and is scheduled for 12 legs, with a total flight time of around 25 days.
Solar Impulse 2 is powered by more than 17,000 solar cells built into wings that, at 72 meters, are longer than those of a Boeing 747 and approaching those of an Airbus A380 superjumbo.
Solar Impulse 2 spent two months in China after arriving at Chongqing airport from Myanmar on March 31, where it had been due to make only a brief stop before continuing to Nanjing but was held up for weeks by weather issues.


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