Solar Plane Makes History in Hawaii

Pilot makes it across Pacific, hardest leg of round-the-world trip
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2015 12:38 PM CDT
The Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered airplane, circles the Kalaeloa Airport Friday in Hawaii.   (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
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(Newser) – A solar plane made aviation history today, and its historic journey is nowhere near over. The Solar Impulse 2, controlled by Swiss pilot André Borschberg, landed in Hawaii after a five-day, 4,000-mile trip over the Pacific Ocean from Japan, reports USA Today. The feat is just one leg on a planned around-the-world trip, but the non-stop stretch over the Pacific was seen as the most difficult, and dangerous, part of the flight. It set the record for the longest solar-powered flight in terms of both time and distance. Waiting to greet Borschberg at the Kalaeloa Airport were his family and his co-pilot, Bertrand Piccard, who will now fly the plane on its next leg, a 100-hour trip to Phoenix.

The 62-year-old Borschberg had to make do with 20-minute naps in the cramped cockpit over his five-day trip, and at times, he sweated through 100-degree temperatures, reports the Guardian. He tweeted along the way, crediting yoga for helping his mental and physical stamina, especially yesterday, when he “climbed the equivalent altitude of Mount Everest four times." CNN explains that the aircraft is covered in 17,000 solar cells, which collect the sun's rays during the day and allow the plane to fly through the night on battery power.

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