A plane attempting to fly around the world, powered only by the sun, has landed safely in Hawai‘i. The 4,000 mile flight over the Pacific Ocean was the plane’s longest and most challenging leg.
The Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg emerged from the cockpit, as the sun began to rise over Kalaeloa Airport outside Honolulu. Borschberg had spent the last 118 hours alone in the air, nearly five full days flying from Japan.
The trip to Hawai‘i set new records, making it the longest non-stop solo flight in history. The plane also clocked in the most time spent in the air and most distance covered for a solar-powered plane. Energy is collected during the day from more than 17,000 solar panels that line the top of the plane’s wings. That power is then stored in batteries, allowing the plane to fly through the night. Co-pilot Bertrand Piccard says the this flight is less about breaking aviation records, and more about the potential of renewable energy.
Borschberg’s journey around the world began back in March in Abu Dhabi. He and Bertrand Piccard are splitting the flying. But each pilot is alone inflight: the cockpit only has room for one. From Hawai‘i, Piccard will take over the flying, and continue across the Pacific heading next to Phoenix, Arizona.