Mountain View, California – At 4:15pm UTC on April 21, 2016, Bertrand Piccard took off from Kalaeloa Airport, Hawaii, to complete Solar Impulse 2 (Si2)’s Pacific crossing. His destination: Moffett Airfield, Mountain View, California. André Borschberg initiated the Pacific crossing last July with a flight from Nagoya to Hawaii that lasted 117 hours and 52 minutes. After 9 months in the Kalaeloa hangar – and as soon as the days were long enough to fly with Si2 – the Solar Impulse pilots resumed their quest to conquer the full circumference of the earth in a solar-powered airplane from Abu Dhabi to Abu Dhabi.
By the time pilot Piccard got used to his tiny 3.8m cockpit, he had already reached the Golden Gate, arriving just before dusk and circling San Francisco. Jokingly, he told the CAPCOM, “I could continue all the way to New York!” He touched down on the Moffett Airfield runway 62 hours after takeoff at 6:44am UTC on April 24, 2016 (11:44pm PT April 23).
Borschberg had been waiting for Piccard at Moffett Airfield since Friday afternoon, making final preparations on the ground before his arrival, which included assembly of an inflatable hangar next to the skeleton of the giant dirigible hangar built in 1933.
Borschberg said “This flight was a huge step in the adventure, and Bertrand Piccard accomplished it like a professional pilot.”
The Solar Impulse team could not have asked for a better window to complete the Pacific Crossing solar flight. They were teased at the start with a slight takeoff delay due to windy conditions on the runway, however the rest of the flight followed smoothly.
Si2 was flying on April 22 during Earth Day when 175 world leaders signed the Paris Climate Agreement at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Piccard had a conversation with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the attendees live from the cockpit to show that clean technologies can improve quality of life – the goal of the global flight.
The next flight will attempt to cross the United States.
Source: Solar Impulse