Solar-powered plane completes historic journey

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© Wikimedia
Solar Impulse 2 has a wider wingspan than a Boeing 747.

THE experimental plane Solar Impulse 2, which is on a mission to circumvent the globe without using a drop of fuel, has just completed one of the most dangerous legs of its voyage.

Piloted by Swiss explorer Bertrand Piccard and co-pilot Andre Borschberg, the ingenious solar-powered aircraft touched down in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, on Saturday April 23 following a 62-hour non-stop flight across a large chunk of the Pacific Ocean.

Piccard and Borschberg maintained alertness during the long journey using self-hypnosis, yoga and meditation, with special packs used to warm their shoes, gloves and ready meals.

On the approach the plane treated spectators to a fly-by of Golden Gate Bridge, following previous stops in Oman, Myanmar, China, Japan and Hawaii.

The epic journey began in Abu Dhabi in March 2015, with the time scale dictated by the plane’s optimal flight speed of just 28 mph, although that can double during the hottest period of the day.

Designed to highlight the effectiveness of renewable energy and spirit of innovation, the project has been beset by setbacks, but Piccard believes it to be a success.

“It’s a new era. It’s not science fiction. It’s today,” he said. “It exists and clean technologies can do the impossible.”

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