Solar-Powered Plane Passes Point of No Return on Pacific Crossing
Solar Impulse, the airplane powered solely by the sun, has traveled past the point when it could safely return to land during the longest leg to date of its round-the-world trip. The aircraft left Nagoya, Japan 22 hours ago on its five-day flight to Honolulu, Hawaii.
It is now traveling at around 28 mph more than 8,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean in the blackness of night, around 2 a.m. local time. Pilot Andre Borschberg has just settled down for the second 20-minute rest period of the 10 he will take today. The aircraft’s batteries, meanwhile, have about 50 percent charge left in them as they power the four electric motors and the vehicle flies to meet the sun again in the next few hours.
The plane has already traveled more than 900 miles of the 4,300-nautical-mile trip. If this leg goes as planned, Solar Impulse will next complete the rest of the Pacific crossing with a flight from Honolulu to Phoenix. See a live transmission from the cockpit below, or go to the Solar Impulse site to see the flow of real-time data from the aircraft.