Thursday 29 September 2016

Pilot's journey into the unknown as solar plane enters most perilous leg

Published 01/06/2015 | 02:30

Betrand Piccard gives the thumbs up before fellow pilot Andre Borschberg takes off. Photo: AFP
Betrand Piccard gives the thumbs up before fellow pilot Andre Borschberg takes off. Photo: AFP
The Swiss-made solar-powered plane Solar Impluse 2 taking off from Nanjing's Lukou International Airport
The flight path of the Solar Impulse 2 for its journey from Nanjing, China, to Hawaii

The Swiss pilot of a solar plane embarked on the longest leg of the first attempt to fly around the world without a drop of fuel.

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Andre Borschberg took off from Nanjing, China, in the Solar Impulse 2 for a flight across the Pacific Ocean expected to last six days and five nights, or at least 130 hours.

The journey started in March in Abu Dhabi, and the solar plane has stopped in Oman, India, Burma and China.

The 8,175km flight from Nanjing to Hawaii is the seventh of 12 flights and the longest and most dangerous. Mr Borschberg and another Swiss pilot, Bertrand Piccard, have been taking turns flying the single-seater Swiss plane during a five-month journey to promote renewable energy use.

"This is the moment of truth," Mr Borschberg (62) said before take-off. He said that if successful, the flight to Hawaii will show the credibility of the vision he and Mr Piccard embraced 16 years ago "to change our mindset regarding the enormous potential of clean technologies and renewable energies".

Irish Independent

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