Remember Solar Impulse 2, the solar aeroplane that could remain in the air forever without the need of recharging? Well, news has arrived that the pioneering plane is back in business and has just completed its biggest stretch of distance from Japan to San Francisco totalling more than 8,924 Km (5,545 miles) in a 5-day long flight with no stops in between!
The solar plane is one of the most amazing we have ever seen as it is longer than a Boeing 747 itself and yet it weighs only 3,527 lbs in all due to its carbon fibre construction with most of the weight attributed to the panels themselves. The plane had been stranded in Japan for several months before this journey could take place due to busted batteries and bad weather. Bad weather particularly is very dangerous for the pilot of the Solar Impulse as the plane is very light with such a long wingspan that it is bound to attract heavy turbulence. There was also a lack of emergency landing sites in between and Pacific can be a very dangerous customer for a pilot who has to fly for three days non-stop. Bertrand Piccard was in the cockpit all alone during this exhaustive stretch of land and to think he flew this thing for five days at once with minimal sleep is beyond our imagination. The cockpit itself is a little bigger than an average London phone booth and the pilot is only permitted power naps of up to twenty minutes only.
Once he landed in Moffet Airfield, Silicon Valley, he was greeted by a group of esteemed individuals including former Google boss Sergey Brin. Surely Google would be very interested in the aircraft’s endeavour as it champions itself as a leader in innovative technologies and green energy future. More than 17,000 solar panels are present on the huge wings of the Solar Impulse and it gets all of its energy from the Sun itself. The charging achieved during the day is enough to last the long night as well. The plane started its journey fro Abu Dhabi in March last year and is now closing in on a complete 360-degree voyage across the world. Though it may not seem much, it is expected to create a lot of interest in alternative forms of energy for aeroplanes.
The next journey in the flight plane is to fly straight from San Francisco to New York. They are working hard on the aircraft to make it fit for this journey and then they can focus on the all-important Atlantic crossing. After that, it is expected to be a pretty straightforward journey to the Abu Dhabi finishing line. Both the pilots have been working on the project for the better part of the last decade and it will be a truly amazing achievement for them.