Solar Impulse Diverts to Japan on Pacific-Spanning Flight
When Andre Borschberg lifted off from Nanjing, China at 2 am Sunday morning, he and his control team back in Monaco, expected he would be airborne for some five days and nights in a record-setting non-stop flight to Hawaii. His aircraft, the four-motored Solar Impulse 2 (Si2), was designed to fly continuously without a drop of fossil fuels around the clock, storing solar energy from its 17,000 solar cells during the day in lithium battery banks for use at night. The success of the flight depends on that sunlight.
From photos transmitted from Si2 prior to its diversion to Japan, it wasn't going to get that vital sunlight as high overcast from a Pacific cold front blocked its way north of the Japanese archipelago. With a nearly full battery pack at 97% and slowly cruising along at more than 37,000 ft, both plane and pilot were ready to continue the flight, but forecasts saw weather deteriorating, closing the window for a successful flight to Hawaii.
With permission and assistance of Japanese authorities, Borschberg successfully landed Si2 at Nagoya's Komaki Airport at 11 minutes before midnight Monday, June 1st. He and his support crew will remain in Japan awaiting the next favorable weather window.
The flight from Nanjing to Nayoga is the longest to-date for a solar-powered aircraft at more than 38 hours continuous flight.
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