Sun-powered plane lands in California after trans-Pacific flight

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The solar-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) landed safely in Mountain View, California on Saturday after a non-stop three-day flight from Hawaii to complete the ninth leg of its historic round-the-world flight without using a drop of fuel.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California (USA) – Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard landed his 5,000-pound solar-powered airplane in the San Francisco Bay area on Saturday evening after a grueling 60-hour non-stop flight from Hawaii’s Kalaleoa airport that completed the most challenging cross-Pacific segment of their journey around the world. The flies at night under the energy stored in the batteries during the day. His compatriot André Borschberg had flown more than 117 hours non-stop on the Japan-Hawaii leg in the propeller airplane that is demonstrating the potential of clean technologies.

Piccard touched down in silence at 23:40 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (PST) after covering 3,760 kilometers/ 2,336 miles, prompting cheers from spectators at Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View who came out to welcome the arrival of the high-tech plane that is powered by more than 17,000 solar cells embedded in its wings that are larger than that of a 747. The arrival of the carbon fiber airplane, which weighs about the same as a family car, was right on schedule. The location in California’s Silicon Valley was fitting as the first destination in the continental United States as a tribute to the region’s pioneering spirit when it comes to clean technologies and renewable energy.

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“America is a nation of pioneers and innovation — aviation was invented here,” said Piccard when asked about the most important message of the flight after landing in California. “That innovation must continue for us all to have a better quality of life. We need the innovation of clean technologies to b! e succes sful in America.”

During the three-day and night flight from Hawaii, while flying at an average speed of about 150 kilometers / 93 miles per hour, Piccard exchanged pleasantries with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a live video conference on Friday that was lived streamed around the world. Speaking from New York, Ban sent Piccard and the Si2 crew his congratulations for their pioneering spirit while Piccard praised the UN Secretary-General and the 175 nations that had just signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change for their leadership in fighting climate change.

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Piccard and Borschberg, Swiss adventurers who are taking turns flying the airplane, are trying to demonstrate the potential of clean technologies with the circumnavigation of the globe. The trip began on March 9, 2015 in Abu Dhabi  and has made stops in Oman, Myanmar, China and Japan. It is scheduled to return to Abu Dhabi after further stops in the United States, Europe or North Africa and the Middle East. Borschberg had landed the Si2 in Hawaii on July 3 after a record-breaking 117-hour, 52-minute nonstop flight of 8,924 kilometers / 7,212 miles across the Pacific from Nagoya, Japan. It flies at night under the energy stored in the batteries during the day.

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