Solar Impulse US touchdown: All about record-breaking sun warriors

  • Agencies
  • Updated: Jul 05, 2015 12:59 IST

The sun-powered Solar Impulse 2 aircraft completed its historic flight without consuming a drop of fuel, touching down successfully in Hawaii.

The 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.

The propeller-driven plane was originally scheduled to fly directly from Nanjing in China to Hawaii. But bad weather along the way forced a diversion to Japan that extended for almost the whole of June as forecasters waited for better conditions.

In this archive photo, Solar Impulse 2 lands at Muscat after finishing the first day of the historic voyage (Photo-Getty Images)

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.

What is Solar Impulse 2?

The Solar Impulse 2 set off from Abu Dhabi earlier this year in a multi-leg attempt to fly around the world without a single drop of fuel.

Solar Impulse 2 takes flight as it begins its historic round-the-world journey from Al Bateen Airport,in Abu Dhabi on March 9, 2015.

(Photo - Getty Images)

It has 17,000 solar cells and on-board rechargeable batteries with a top speed of 140 kilometres an hour.

The Solar Impulse 2 airplane prepares to land at Kalaeloa airport. (Reuters Photo)

Its wingspan is longer than that of a jumbo jet but the carbon-fibre aircraft weighs only 2.3 tonnes(2,300kg) a little less than a Mahindra Scorpio.

The Solar Impulse 2 approaches Kalaeloa Airport. (AP Photo)

The plane is the successor to Solar Impulse, which managed a 26-hour flight in 2010, proving its ability to store enough power in lithium batteries during the day to keep flying at night.

The dynamic aviation duo

Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard have been alternating the long solo flights aboard the plane.

Solar Impulse 2 pilots Bertrand Piccard(L) and Andre Borschberg(R) are greeted by the Hawaiian Pa`u Riders with a Hawaiian lei.

(AFP Photo)
Beginning on March 12, the two men began another journey with the Solar Impulse 2, with Borschberg piloting the plane and Piccard in charge on the ground.

Solar Impulse 2 pilot Bertrand Piccard(L) and pilot Andre Borschberg, wave after Borschberg landed at Kalaeloa Airport, Hawaii.

(AFP Photo)
Calling it "an interior journey", 62-year-old of Andre Borschberg has made aviation history with the record breaking solo flight across the Pacific.
Borschberg partnered with Swiss psychiatrist and balloonist Bertrand Piccard to launch the unprecedented flight.
Fifteen years ago, he narrowly escaped an avalanche, and then in 2013 he was involved in a helicopter crash, which left him with minor injuries.
He earned his degree in mechanics and thermodynamics from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, following up with master's degrees from MIT in the US and HEC Lausanne.

Solar Impulse 2 pilot Andre Borschberg. (Reuters Photo)

Borschberg has previously worked as an army pilot and consultant for Swiss firm McKinsey, before dabbling in entrepreneurship, co-founding a company specialising in microprocessors.
He supervised the construction of the first Solar Impulse plane, and in 2010 for the first time in history flew 26 hours straight using only solar energy.
In 2013, over a period of two months, the dynamic aviation duo made the journey across the US.
With an imposing stature and an athletic build, Borschberg attributes his mental strength to yoga and meditation. Borschberg had transformed his tiny bench into a yoga mat, using specialised postures custom-tailored for him by his personal yogi, Sanjeev Bhanot.

Celebrations galore

As the flight neared its destination, the Solar Impulse team tweeted images and videos of the plane over Hawaii.

Ridiculed by the aviation industry when it was first unveiled, the venture has since been hailed around the world, including by the UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

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