Solar Impulse Departs for Hawaii

Borschberg pilots the Si2 on the most challenging leg of the round the world flight.

Solar Impulse 2 over Pacific

Solar Impulse 2 over Pacific

André Borschberg, the co-founder and CEO of Solar Impulse, has been strapped into the 134 square foot cockpit of the Solar Impulse Si2 and is nearly half-way through his flight from Japan to Hawaii, a journey that is expected to take about 120 hours, all over water with no alternatives for a diversion. The solar-powered aircraft made an unscheduled stop in Nagoya, Japan for several weeks, grounded due to unstable weather conditions.

One of the wings had been slightly damaged during the landing in Nagoya, so Borschberg spent a few hours circling the area while the team ensured the airplane was ready to leave the safety of the coast of Japan.

During his slow flight across the Pacific Ocean, Borschberg will sleep in 20-minute intervals, and use meditation and yoga to keep his mind alert and his body moving in the tiny space. The straight distance from Nagoya to Hawaii is about 3,640 nm, but in order to take advantage of the most favorable winds and cloud conditions, Borschberg will take a winding route that is nearly 4,500 nm in an airplane that rarely tops 75 knots over the ground.

The margins of error for the Si2 are quite slim. Michael Enger, a mission engineer for Solar Impulse, said the airplane has been down to nearly 10 percent of its available battery power and was expected to get down to 15-20 percent at the end of the second night segment.

Enger also said the team has tweaked the flight path slightly and expect Borschberg to complete the journey in less than five days. Following the marathon leg, Borschberg will circle over Hawaii for several hours in preparation for landing.

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