Solar Impulse completes historic flight, arrives in Hawaii

  • AFP, Kapolei
  • Updated: Jul 04, 2015 13:11 IST

The sun-powered Solar Impulse 2 aircraft completed its historic flight without consuming a drop of fuel, touching down gracefully in Hawaii after the most arduous leg of its journey.

The flight from Japan to Hawaii was the eighth of 13 legs.

Piloted by veteran Swiss aviator Andre Borschberg, the plane took five days to make the historic voyage from Japan to Hawaii and landed on Friday shortly after dawn at Kalaeloa Airport on the main Hawaiian island of Oahu.

"Just landed in #Hawaii with @solarimpulse! For @bertrandpiccard and I, it's a dream coming true," Borschberg tweeted triumphantly upon after completing the most dangerous leg of the around-the-world journey. Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard have been alternating the long solo flights aboard the plane.

His colleague and tag-team copilot on the venture, Piccard expressed elation over the arrival of aircraft and pilot. "Difficult to believe what I see: #Si2 in Hawaii! But I never had doubts that @andreborschberg could make it!" he wrote on Twitter.

"This flight to Hawaii is not only an aviation historic first, but also a historic first for energy and cleantechs," wrote Piccard. The experimental plane touched down in Hawaii shortly after dawn -- a little after 1600 GMT -- amid cheers and applause from the ground crew. Borschberg, all smiles, emerged a short time time later from the cockpit.

Sunlight glimmered on the horizon as the Solar Impulse ground crew burst into cheers and applause upon completion of the groundbreaking flight, whose progress was streamed live at the solar impulse website.

The plane landed around noon ET at Hawaii's Kalaeloa Airport after an arduous five-day, non-stop flight, according to Solar Impulse's website, which livestreamed the event.

The completed 4,000-mile leg from Nagoya, Japan, to Hawaii was not only the world's longest solar-powered flight both by time and distance, it also set the record for longest solo flight by time.

As the flight neared its destination, the Solar Impulse team tweeted images and videos of the plane over Hawaii. Earlier Friday, founder of Virgin Group Richard Branson congratulated the Solar Impulse team on Twitter for beating Virgin's record non-stop solo flight without refueling. "The #solarteam made it. WE MADE IT, YOU MADE IT THANKS TO YOUR SUPPORT!"read a message posted under the Twitter handle @solarimpulse.

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