Solar plane makes Moffett Field temporary home; prepares for next leg of yearlong flight

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As it gears up for the next leg of its yearlong flight around the world, the Solar Impulse-2 is making Moffett Field in Mountain View its temporary home.

While a technical team gives the craft the once-over, the contagious ‘wow’ factor of watching it fly over the Golden Gate is broader than solar flight.

"It's much more than making a revolution in the aviation industry. It’s mainly about making a revolution in the mindset of the people when they think about energy," said Bertrand Piccard, the plane's pilot and the project initiator.

Piccard's roots into exploration go back generations and forward centuries. A relative became the character model for the famous Captain Jean-Luc Picard from the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series in the 1990s.

The Solar Impulse-2 has a wingspan longer than a 747, weighs as much as an empty SUV, and has the horsepower of a motorcycle.

Piccard says, "If you get out of your comfort zone, you can be very successful in what you try."

The captain  and crew are trying to circumnavigate the globe without fossil  fuels.

Piccard says his moment of reflection during the long trip from Hawaii to California came out over the Pacific Ocean, while alone, with ready-to-heat meals and a toilet in his pilot's seat.

"I really realized that I was inside that cockpit alone, I felt so well, so confident, and I felt this is adventure."

The plane is solar powered but it's also very sensitive to the harsh California sun beating down and reflecting off the tarmac—that and gusting winds. Engineers created an inflatable hangar to protect it until it takes to the skies again.

Meanwhile, project lead engineer Robert Fraefel has spent his day analyzing data and solar panels to make sure the landing here hasn't left the plane unable to take off.

"We don't have so much experience flying multi-day missions," he says.  "So it's the second time now and still the airplane does not look different than after a two-hour flight."

All that's left now is to wait for good weather and then, the adventurous man and his flying machine will continue the attempt to land in the record books.