Solar Impulse 2 on course for ninth leg of zero-fuel flight

Solar Impulse 2 is expected to land in Mountain View, California on schedule after taking off on Thursday for the nearly three-day ninth leg of its round-the-world journey.

Powered by automated translation

Solar Impulse 2 is expected to land in Mountain View, California on schedule after taking off on Thursday for the nearly three-day ninth leg of its round-the-world journey.

The plane, piloted by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, resumed its zero-fuel, round-the-world voyage from Oahu's Kalaeloa Airport in Hawaii at about 8.15pm UAE time on Thursday.

Piccard, who is expected to fly solo for about 62 hours across the Pacific Ocean, appeared upbeat on Twitter on Friday.

“Today is symbolic,” he said, noting that his solar-powered flight coincided with both Earth Day and signing of the Paris climate change agreement in New York.

He described how he felt while crossing the Pacific: “A strange sensation to be alone over the Pacific Ocean. A bit similar to what Amelia Earhart should have felt.”

“It took Amelia Earhart 18 hours to fly solo from Hawaii to California in 1935. It will take me a bit longer, but at least without any fuel.”

The aircraft landed in Hawaii last July but was grounded for nine months after suffering critical heat-related damage to its batteries during the previous leg of its round-the-world flight, in which co-pilot Andre Borschberg completed a historic five-day, 7,200km journey from Nagoya, Japan.

The mission began its journey in March last year from Abu Dhabi, then made stops in Oman, Myanmar, China and Japan.

“Solar Impulse and Masdar share a visionary spirit and a common goal of advancing renewable energy,” Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, chief executive of Masdar, said on Friday.

“Having accepted a challenge considered impossible by many, the pilots are redefining the world’s perception of what can be achieved through clean-tech innovation and of the possibilities of renewable energy.”

Emirati Hasan Al Redaini, who was in Hawaii for take-off, is working with the Solar Impulse team as the plane continues its journey.

“We are following each step of Si2’s journey with great excitement and are looking forward to welcoming the plane back to the UAE,” said Mr Al Ramahi. “Solar Impulse symbolises the positive potential of human endeavour, and we are inspired by its message of hope.”

newsdesk@thenational.ae