A solar powered plane landed in California on Saturday, marking the completion of a risky three-day flight across the Pacific Ocean. The recent landing is another part of the airplane’s proposed journey around the world. The solar powered plane is the idea of Solar Impulse, a group that is attempting to pull off a trip around the globe in a 5,000-pound plane that uses 17,000 solar cells.
Their attempts at achieving this dream has not been without its share of bumps along the way. A quick instance would be the earlier flight (Solar Impulse’s first oceanic crossing that took 5 days and nights from Nagoya, Japan, to Kalaeloa, Hawaii).
It was carried out in July last year and saw some delays; the solar powered plane, Solar Impulse 2, landed in Hawaii after it was forced to stay in the islands when the plane’s battery system sustained heat damage on its trip from Japan. The team was delayed in Asia, as well. In fact when first attempting to fly from Nanjing, China, to Hawaii, the crew had to divert to Japan because of unfavorable weather and a damaged wing and left almost a full month later when weather conditions were right.
This current trans-Pacific leg was however the riskiest part of the plane’s global travels because of the lack of emergency landing sites and on Saturday, pilot Bertrand Piccard finished a three-day, 2,336-mile flight from Hawaii to California. The route crossed over San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and finished in Google’s Moffett Field, in Silicon Valley.
Although solar Impulse is not the first ever solar airplane, it is the first to fly day and night, without any fuel and to achieve an oceanic crossing. The plane only utilizes energy stored in its batteries. While the plane may be a long way from being tailored for commercial use, a solar powered plane still sends a strong message about the future of air travel and the use of alternative fuel sources in general. Clean energy could in the ‘not so far’ future provide a safe and successful transportation method and help us to treat our planet better.