Earlier today, pilot André Borschberg set the record for the longest nonstop solo flight, while completing the ambitious Pacific leg of the Solar Impulse’s journey around the world.
On Monday, the sun-powered Solar Impulse plane set off on what would become a 120 hour-plus flight from Nagoya, Japan, to Hawaii. Now, over 76 hours into the journey, the fuel-free plane has made aviation history by breaking the solo flight record set by American Steve Fosset in 2006. In doing so, Solar Impulse is showing the world exactly what’s possible with current solar technology.
The Impulse is slated to touch down in Kalaeloa, Hawaii tomorrow, but when exactly the plane will land isn’t yet clear. Right now, Borschberg faces the tricky task of trying to manage his way across a cold front:
Once he reaches his destination, there are some stringent constraints in place to ensure that the solar flier’s 72-meter wingspan is able to touch down safely, including a maximum crosswind of no more than 4 knots. If ground conditions are too windy, Borschberg will be asked to circle the plane overhead until things calm down.
At that point, our heroic pilot will have already spent 120 hours in the air, strapped to a seat that doubles as a toilet, bed, and exercise machine, and having barely slept in days. Don’t worry, though: Before departure, Borschberg received meditation and hypnosis training to help him maintain concentration for what has become the most demanding journey of his life.
Top image: Swiss-made Solar Impulse 2. Image: AP Photo/Ajit Solanki