Born in Switzerland and now heading from Hawaii to California, Solar Impulse 2 took off early this morning from Kalaeloa in Hawaii, as it continues its round-the-world flight.
In silence, the 100% solar-powered aircraft took off across the Pacific at 6:15am Hawaii time (UTC-10) bound for California. The plane belonging to Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, two Swiss pilots is capable of flying day and night, powered only by the energy of the sun. Bertrand Piccard, the lone pilot on this leg of the global journey will be airborne during Earth Day, a symbolic coincidence.
He is expected to land at the Moffett airfield in Mountain View, California, on 23 April 2016. The flight, which should take three days depending on weather conditions, is one more leg of the team’s round-the-world solar flight.
The journey is similar to the one of American aviator Amelia Earhart, who set off from Honolulu for the first solo flight to California on 11 January, 1935. Despite the many parallels between these flights, one significant difference stands out. Earhart’s airplane took off carrying close to 1,900 litres of gasoline, while Solar Impulse 2 carries none. The main wing, fuselage and horizontal stabilizer are covered with 17,248 solar cells powering four lithium batteries, which in turn power four motors.
The video below explains the aircraft and why the pair are attempting a project that many said was impossible. Aircraft engineers said they could’t build it so the went to boat builders instead.
Last July, the long trip from Nagoya, Japan to Hawaii, taking 5 days and 5 nights took its toll on the 100% solar powered aircraft. The large batteries that are so essential to the functioning of the Swiss plane overheated on this flight and suffered irreversible damage. As a result, the Solar Impulse team took time out to repair the batteries.
The hard work seems to have paid off. The plane took to the air again today as scheduled.