Earth Day is a fitting day for the resumption of history in the making. Earth day and Solar Impulse, both powered by the grace of the Sun. The solar-powered plane on a record-setting around-the-world journey was about a third of the way along a treacherous flight from Hawaii to California early Friday, according to the project’s mission control.
Bertrand Piccard, piloting the Solar Impulse 2 aircraft, watched the sun rise over the north Pacific after taking off on battery power during darkness, according to a livestream from a website documenting the journey.
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“Absolutely fantastic moment…. That’s a sunrise I will remember all my life,” he said.
The trans-Pacific leg is the riskiest part of the plane’s global travels due to the lack of emergency landing sites.
After some uncertainty about winds, the plane took off from Kalaeloa Airport in Hawaii on Thursday morning and was on course to land in Mountain View, Calif., over the weekend. The crew that helped it take off was clearing out of its Hawaiian hangar and headed for the mainland for the weekend arrival.
At one point passengers on a Hawaiian Air jet caught a glimpse of the Solar Impulse 2 before the airliner sped past the slow-moving sun-powered aircraft.
The Solar Impulse 2 landed in Hawaii in July and was forced to stay in the islands after the plane’s battery system sustained heat damage on its trip from Japan.