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Solar Impulse-2 Completes Pacific Ocean Flight
Apr 30, 2016

A solar-powered plane has landed in California on April 25, completing a risky three-day flight across the Pacific Ocean as part of its journey around the world. Pilot Bertrand Piccard landed the Solar Impulse 2 in Mountain View, in the Silicon Valley south of San Francisco, following a 62-hour, non-stop solo flight without fuel. The landing came several hours after Piccard performed a flyby over the Golden Gate Bridge as spectators watched the narrow aircraft with extra-wide wings from below.

  • Piccard and fellow Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg have been taking turns flying the plane on an around-the-world trip since taking off from Abu Dhabi, in the UAE, in March 2015.

  • It made stops in Oman, India, Myanmar, China, Japan and Hawaii.

  • The trans-Pacific leg was the riskiest part of the plane's global travels because of the lack of emergency landing sites.

  • After several stops in the United States, the pilots hope to cross the Atlantic Ocean, and then Europe or northern Africa. They plan to return to the Middle East by late summer, completing a 35,000-kilometer trip around the world.

Solar Impulse-2

  • The plane's ideal flight speed is about 28 mph, though that can double during the day when the sun's rays are strongest.

  • The carbon-fibre aircraft weighs more than 2,268 kg.

  • The plane's wings, which stretch wider than those of a Boeing 747, are equipped with 17,000 solar cells that power propellers and charge batteries.

  • The plane runs on stored energy at night.

  • Solar Impulse 2 set several records during the Pacific flight, including distance, speed, duration, altitude, and altitude gain for an electric airplane.

  • After several months of maintenance and repairs in Hawaii, Solar Impulse 2 has made it all the way across the Pacific Ocean to California.

  • The revolutionary solar-powered, electric plane is now three-quarters of the way through its around-the-world voyage, with nine out of 12 legs completed.

The Solar Impulse 2 was originally supposed to land in Abu Dhabi, where it started its journey in March 2015, by the end of last summer. But a series of frustrating weather delays in China slowed progress for weeks, followed by an unexpected diversion to Japan, where the aircraft was damaged on the tarmac by a storm.

The project, which began in 2002 and is estimated to cost more than $100m, is meant to highlight the importance of renewable energy and the spirit of innovation.

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