Last week, the longest and most difficult leg of the round-the-world solar flight by Swiss explorers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg ended successfully in Hawaii.
At the controls of Solar Impulse 2, pilot André Borschberg landed safely after flying 117 hours and 52 minutes over the Pacific Ocean from Japan, traveling a distance of roughly 4,480 miles. Borschberg broke the world records of distance and duration for solar aviation, as well as the world record for the longest solo flight ever.
Successfully accomplishing this eighth leg by remaining airborne for five 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, but a reality.
“I feel exhilarated by this extraordinary journey,” Borschberg said. “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, battling to give me the possibility to rest and recover, while also maximizing energy levels and sending me trajectories and flight strategies simulated by computer.”
“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 Piccard, initiator of Solar Impulse, as well as the chairman and pilot.
Solar Impulse’s mission of building a solar plane was created to demonstrate how pioneering spirit, innovation and clean technologies can change the world and encourage people to save energy and use clean technologies globally. Continuing their progress since starting from Abu Dhabi this last March, the explorers hope to bring attention to mankind’s larger problems with pollution, depletion of natural resources and climate change.
To celebrate the achievements of this record-breaking project, the editors at SPW have compiled a list of ten incredible facts. Please click through the numbers below to view each fact.