The Solar Impulse, a plane powered by nothing other than the sun has succeeded in crossing the Pacific Ocean. This amazing accomplishment highlights the capabilities and the importance of renewable energy. This record setting voyage was flown by pilot Andre Borschberg. The 118-hours it took to make the journey breaks a record for the longest nonstop solo flight ever.
The trans-Pacific leg of the voyage was the most difficult and dangerous portion of its global trek. The 35,000 kilometer flight across the Pacific was the riskiest segment of the plane’s global travels as there was nowhere for it to land in the event of an emergency. It took five days for the plane to fly from Nygoya Japan to an airport just outside of Honolulu in Hawaii.
What makes 118 hour flight even more remarkable is the fact that the single-seater aircraft is powered entirely by 17,000 solar panels. The plane has a wingspan wider than a jumbo jet yet weighs only 5,000 pounds. It averages speeds of around 28 miles per hour, although it can travel at over 50 miles per hour when the sun is shining.
The plane took off from Japan on June 29th and landed in Hawaii on July 3. Here is a video of the Solar Impulse landing in Hawaii
Borschberg called the flight an extraordinary experience, saying it marked historical firsts for aviation and for renewable energy.
“Nobody now can say that renewable energies cannot do the impossible,” he said. The most challenging part of the journey was when he and fellow Swiss co-pilot Bertrand Piccard had to decide when exactly to leave Japan.
“You don’t know if it’s feasible. You don’t know if it’s possible. You don’t know if you are going to lose the airplane,” he said.
The $100 million project highlights the importance of emissions free renewable energy. It also demonstrates the capabilities of technological innovation to meet the challenges we face.
Hawaii is an appropriate place for the plane as the state is leading the charge towards 100 percent renewable energy in the US.