Solar Impulse, the aeroplane that is powered only by the sun, has landed in Hawaii after making a historic 8,000km flight across the Pacific from Japan.
Pilot Andre Borschberg brought the vehicle gently down onto the runway at Kalaeloa Airport just before 06:00 local time (16:00 GMT; 17:00 BST). The distance covered and the time spent in the air – 118 hours – are records for manned, solar-powered flight.
The duration is also an absolute record for a solo, un-refueled journey. Mr Borschberg’s time betters that of the American adventurer Steve Fossett who spent 76 hours aloft in a single-seater jet in 2006.
The Swiss pilot was met in Kalaeloa by his partner on the Solar Impulse project, Bertrand Piccard. The pair are sharing flying duties in their quest to circumnavigate the globe – an effort they began in Abu Dhabi, UAE, back in March.
It is Mr Piccard who will now fly the next leg from Hawaii to Phoenix, Arizona. That will not be quite as far as the leg just completed, but it will still likely take four days and nights.
Piccard and Borschberg want to take Solar Impulse around the world.
From Phoenix, Solar Impulse will head for New York and an Atlantic crossing that would eventually see the plane return to Abu Dhabi.
The project was stuck in Nanjing, China, for five weeks before the first attempt to cross the ocean was made.
Solar Impulse’s lightweight and large, 72m wingspan put significant constraints on the type of weather conditions it can handle; and that first sortie was aborted after just one day in the air because of a fast developing cold front ahead of it.
Borschberg diverted to Nagoya, and then had to wait a further month before being given the green light on Monday to take off for Kalealoa.
The Solar Impulse plane is not intended to be a vision of the future of aviation. Rather, it is supposed to be a demonstration of the current capabilities of solar power in general.
The vehicle is covered in 17,000 photovoltaic cells. These either power the vehicle’s electric motors directly, or charge its lithium-ion batteries, which sustain the plane during the night hours.
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