The longest and most difficult leg of the Round the World Solar Flight attempted since last March by Swiss explorers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg ended successfully in Hawaii. At the controls of Solar Impulse 2, pilot André Borschberg landed safely in Hawaii after flying 117 hours and 52 minutes over the Pacific Ocean from Japan powered only by the sun. A historic landing took place in Hawaii after a perilous nonstop flight for five days and five nights. With the sun rising this morning at 5:55am local time Hawaii (15:55 GMT), Solar Impulse 2 touched down at the Kalaeloa Airport after traveling a distance of roughly 4,480 miles (7,200 km).
Pilot André Borschberg, also co-founder of Solar Impulse with Bertrand Piccard, broke the world records of distance and duration for solar aviation, as well as the world record for the longest solo flight ever, (117 hours and 52 minutes), around 7,200km. These world records will be ratified upon landing by the International Aeronautical Federation. André endured many challenges requiring him to carefully maintain a balance between wearing an oxygen mask for long stretches of time during high altitude, getting enough rest and maximising the energy levels of the plane, particularly during turbulent weather conditions.
Successfully accomplishing this 8th leg by remaining airborne for 5 consecutive days and nights has now proven that the airplane’s critical components perform exceptionally and that Solar Impulse’s vision of reaching unlimited endurance without fuel, using solely the power of the sun, was not only a dream: perpetual flight is a reality. “I feel exhilarated by this extraordinary journey. I have climbed the equivalent altitude of Mount Everest five times without much rest. “The team at the Mission Control Center in Monaco (MCC) was my eyes and my ears… The MCC was battling to give me the possibility to rest and recover, but also maximising the aircraft’s energy levels and sending me trajectories and flight strategies simulated by computer", said André Borschberg, "This success fully validates the vision that my partner Bertrand Piccard had after his round-the-world balloon flight to reach unlimited endurance in an airplane without fuel,” he adds. "What André has achieved is extraordinary from the perspective of a pilot. But furthermore, he has also led the technical team during the construction of this revolutionary prototype. It is not only a historic first in aviation it is also a historic first for renewable energies," said Bertrand Piccard, initiator of Solar Impulse, chairman and pilot.
Solar Impulse’s bold mission of building a solar plane was created to demonstrate how pioneering spirit, innovation and clean technologies can change the world and to encourage people to save energy and promote the use of clean technologies globally. Departing from Abu Dhabi in March, the explorers are not on this endeavor for the sake of it, as mankind is facing a much bigger problem with pollution, depletion of natural resources and climate change.
For Bertrand Piccard, the unprecedented accomplishment is to demonstrate that if technological solutions exist to fly a plane day and night without fuel - which has been successfully proven - then there is potential for these same efficient technologies to be used in our daily lives, and to achieve energy savings to reduce CO2 emissions. To catapult this idea to the next level, Solar Impulse initiated the Future Is Clean campaign, calling on supporters to add their voice to the message on www.futureisclean.org: a website serving as a petition to convince governments around the globe to implement the necessary clean technology solutions and help ensure that the United Nations’ upcoming Conference on Climate Change (COP21) is successful in renewing the Kyoto protocol this December in Paris. During a typical 24-hour flight cycle, the pilot rests eight times averaging between 5 and 20 minutes per day. This is possible only at lower altitudes when the oxygen mask is required to be worn. The pilot’s daily intake is 2.4kg (5.2lbs) of food, 2.5 l (84.5oz) of water, and 1 l (33.8oz) of sports drink per day. His meals include a breakfast, a lunch prepared to be as similar as possible to home-made meals, and snacks including dried fruits and chocolate. The nutritional composition of the food will fluctuate with respect to altitudes and temperatures because the pilots require more energy when flying at higher altitudes – in spite of decreased appetites due to increased elevation. Borschberg performed yoga 30 to 45 minutes a day to stay fit and prevent any potential negative effects of immobility.
Bertrand Piccard will fly to Phoenix for the next leg of the Round-The-World attempt before the mission continues onward to New York, Europe and Abu Dhabi where it all started.