Solar Impulse 2 has taken off from Hawaii after a 9-month delay in its round-the-world solar-powered flight. It is due to make landfall in Silicon Valley, California, in three days' time.
Solar Impulse 2 took off from Kalaeloa Airport in the Hawaiian islands, following an interruption in the aircraft's progress around the world caused by problems with its batteries in July of last year.
Bertrand Piccard was at the controls of the solar-powered plane, which has no fuel on board. Once completed, the circumnavigation of the globe using only energy from the sun will be a world first. On his way to the airport on Thursday, Piccard said that the flight's destination, in the heart of Silicon Valley, was fitting, saying it will land "in the middle of the pioneering spirit."
The technicians had to calculate the effect of the strong wind on the Pacific island before take-off early on Thursday local time:
The short delay allowed the team to enjoy one last sunrise in Hawaii:
The stage between Hawaii and Moffett Airfield, Mountain View, California, is expected to take about three days. It is the ninth leg Solar Impulse's journey around the world, following its launch from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, March 9, 2015. It has, so far, made stops in Oman, Myanmar, China and Japan.
Nine months ago, in July, the round-the-world solar flights were put on hold because of a battery complication during the 5 day and night flight from Nagoya, Japan to Hawaii. The technical delay shows the importance of developing batteries which can absorb and sustain power over long periods. Once the problems are overcome, solar-powered aircraft could fly continuously.
In an interview with DW, Solar Impulse co-founder and co-pilot André Borschberg said using solar energy stored in batteries allowed the pilot to fly the aircraft through the night: "It makes it the first airplane capable of flying almost forever."
jm/msh (AFP, AP)