Solar-powered plane set to make longest flight yet
Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane created by Solar Impulse, the Swiss long-range experimental solar-powered aircraft project, is poised to break records for the longest-duration solo flight and the longest distance flown by an entirely solar-powered aircraft, as reported by The Washington Post. Co-founder and pilot Bertrand Piccard and fellow pilot and founder Andre Borschberg are attempting to fly this single-seater solar plane from Japan to Hawaii — approximately 5,095 miles over the Pacific Ocean — in five days.
The team is aiming to be the first to accomplish a solar-powered plane trip around the world and the prototype is equipped with nearly 50 percent more solar cells than the previous Solar Impulse aircraft. Piccard will be flying this leg of the journey, as the cockpit only seats one person and is roughly the size of a telephone booth. The two have been alternating flights throughout the course of their journey.
Possessing a wingspan larger than that of a jumbo jet, yet only weighing in at a fraction of the weight, the plane’s takeoff from Japan was delayed for nearly two months due to various setbacks. The team is overjoyed to set off on the eighth flight of their 13-part journey and hopes for 120 hours of sunny weather to keep the aircraft in flight, as they store no fuel aboard — only the energy from the sun stored in the batteries. The team’s goal is to make it back to Europe — where their journey began — by August before hurricane season begins.
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