Solar-Powered Plane Soars Over The Pacific Without A Drop Of Fuel

A solar-powered, single-pilot airplane just made aviation (and renewable energy) history, completing the 4,000-mile journey from Japan to Hawaii without stops or fossil fuel.
Solar Impulse’s around-the-world attempt began March 9 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The plane reached Nanjing, China, on May 31, on the seventh leg of the journey. The Solar Impulse originally left Nanjing, China, for Hawaii, but diverted to Japan on June 1 because of unfavorable weather. The Solar Impulse 2 departed around 3 a.m. from an airport in Nagoya in central Japan. The plane landed Friday morning at Kalaeloa Airport on the island of Oahu.
The aircraft has a maximum speed of 90 mph and only averaged around 40 mph during the flight, which means the journey took a daunting 117 hours and 52 seconds — or nearly five days. The pilot for this leg of the flight, Andr√© Borschberg, got his sleep in 20-minute naps. By comparison, a Boeing 777, with a top speed of around 600 mph, can make the same trip in about 8.5 hours.
The Solar Impulse 2 broke a number of records with its latest flight, including longest distance for solar-powered flight, longest duration for solar-powered flight, and longest non-stop solo-pilot flight of any kind (made possible because the plane doesn’t need to stop for refueling).
The experimental plane is made mostly of carbon fiber. The pilot is navigating the flight alone in an unheated and unpressurized 134-cubic-foot (3.8 cubic meters) cockpit, which is roughly equivalent to the space inside a typical four-door sedan. It has 17,248 solar cells on the wings that recharge four lithium polymer batteries, allowing it to fly at night. It is extremely light at 5,070 pounds and has an impressive 236-foot wingspan, which generates enough lift to maintain flight over long periods of time.
The plane has five more legs to fly in its groundbreaking journey around the world. Onward to Phoenix!
Sources: huffingtonpost.com, foxnews.com, new.yahoo.com

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