After a trans-Pacific trip, the solar powered experimental aircraft Solar Impulse landed safely at Moffat Field in Mountain View, California, USA, in the evening of April 24, 2016.
Bertrand Piccard was the pilot for the four-day trip. Monitoring and help for the flight was provided by the Solar Impulse mission engineers at the Mission Control Center (MCC) in Monaco in Western Europe.
The aircraft took off from Kalaeloa Airport in Hawaii, USA, where it had overwintered waiting for better weather and to give the crew a chance to repair its batteries, which were damaged on the flight from Japan.
On the morning of departure, the flight was nearly scrubbed as winds were too high, but when they subsided, the ground crew took Solar Impulse 2 out of the hangar and onto the runway again where it left the ground at 6:15am local time. Before leaving, the pilot and plane, along with the rest of the team, were blessed by a Hawaiian Kahuna (spiritual leader).
During the flight, the aircraft flew through three ‘energy neutral’ mornings according to the MCC, during which the solar panels did not generate enough extra electricity to charge the batteries as well as power the aircraft.
When the flight arrived off the California coast after 54 hours of flying, Piccard flew over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and then flew for approximately three hours over the US city before landing in darkness at Moffett Airfield.
Aerospace Testing International’s report on this amazing aircraft can be read here.
April 29, 2016