Solar Impulse 2 takes off from Nagoya to begin Pacific crossing

Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg, 62, left the ground in Nagoya, in central Japan, around 10pm UAE time.

Solar Impulse 2 took off from Nagoya with Andre Borschberg at the controls. The solar-powered plane took off early Monday for Hawaii after an unexpected month-long stop in central Japan due to bad weather conditions. EPA/Solar Impulse / Jean Revillard
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The team behind Solar Impulse 2, the solar-powered plane trying to circumnavigate the world, breathed a sigh of relief on Monday night after the aircraft took to the skies, bound for Hawaii.

On June 1, while trying to fly across the Pacific from Nanjing in China to Hawaii, co-pilot Andre Borschberg was forced to land in Nagoya, Japan, after hitting a storm front.

The Pacific crossing of 8,172 kilometres, the plane’s seventh leg, was to have been the world’s longest solar flight, in distance and duration.

But despite the setback, a new record was made.

On June 25, co-pilot Bertrand Piccard told Tribune de Geneve that the plane had only a short window of time in which to continue on its journey. If that window closed, it would have to spend the winter in a hangar.

Mr Piccard said that by early August the days would be too short for the solar-driven plane to cross the Pacific, and then the Atlantic Ocean, safely.

After making its unscheduled landing, the aircraft’s wings were damaged by wind and rain, issues that were promptly fixed.

An earlier attempt to continue the journey, on June 24, was dropped because of the weather.

Mr Borschberg, who flew for 44 hours on his way to Nagoya, again took control of the plane as it flew out of Japan about 10pm UAE time.

The Masdar-sponsored plane began its journey from Abu Dhabi on March 9.

*with reporting by AFP