Solar plane taking first trans-Pacific flight will land in Bay Area
SANTA CLARA CO. (BCN) - A Swiss man took off this morning from Hawaii and is bound for Moffett Field in Santa Clara County on the first Pacific crossing in a solar-powered airplane.
Bertrand Piccard, a medical doctor, took off from Honolulu's Kalaeloa Airport at 6:15 a.m. local time and is expected to land Saturday, depending on weather conditions, at Moffett Field after 62 hours of flight.
The plane, called Solar Impulse 2, weighs 5,100 pounds and collects energy during the day, allowing the plane to fly at night. Piccard and entrepreneur Andre Borschberg are collaborating on the historic attempt and worked together on the plane's construction.
The aim of the men is to be an example of actions people can take to sustain the environment and also show others that the world can be run on clean technologies, according to a news release about the flight.
Bertrand said in a statement that seven days over the Pacific Ocean during a round-the-world balloon flight in 1999 were nerve-wrecking and thrilling. He said this flight will be no less intense.
"Every morning you have the suspense of knowing how much energy is left in your batteries," he said. "Then, with the sunrise comes the virtuous circle of perpetual flight."
The flight is a leg of Borschberg and Piccard's journey to circumnavigate the globe in Solar Impulse 2.
This flight is similar to the one made in 1935 by American Amelia
Earhart, who flew from Honolulu to Oakland, but an important difference is that Earhart's plane carried 500 gallons of gasoline while Solar Impulse 2 has none.
The aircraft is powered by 17,248 solar cells, which power four lithium batteries, which in turn power four motors and propellers. The plane has a 72-meter wingspan and seats one.
People interested in the flight can follow it live at http://www.solarimpulse.com.