Monday, June 01, 2015

Solar Powered Plane Making Way Around the Planet - Slowly

One of the big adventures that is taking place at the moment is the attempt by the Solar Impulse 2 aircraft to fly completely around the world using nothing but solar power. The plane first took off from Abu Dhabi in March and has been slowly making its way around the globe, having made stops in Oman, India, Myanmar, and China along the way. The aircraft was expected to launch its longest, and riskiest, leg of the journey next, but has now run into some difficult which will delay that attempt.

The latest stage of the journey was to see the Solar Impulse take off from Nanjing, China yesterday and head towards Hawaii as pilot Andre Borschberg attempts a dangerous crossing of the Pacific Ocean that was expected to take about five days to complete. Not long into the flight however, the aircraft was forced to land in Nagoya, Japan today due to impending bad weather. The large vehicle isn't as quick and agile as other planes, and so it must take extra precautions on its journey.

The plane was forced to wait until 10 PM local time before touching down in Nagoya. Because of its size, conditions must be almost perfect to complete the landing. Winds must be below 10 knots, and all commercial aircraft must be out of the area as well.

It is difficult to say how long the next stage of the journey will be delayed. The Solar Impulse team will watch the weather forecasts and look for a good window that will allow Borschberg to continue his flight. For now though, they'll sit and wait for good conditions to return, and will no doubt receive all kinds of extra attention while they layover in Japan.

When the journey is complete, it will have covered more than 35,000 miles (56,300 km) circumnavigating the globe. When the plane leaves Japan it will proceed to Hawaii as planned before moving on to Phoenix, Arizona and New York City. From there, the solar-powered aircraft will proceed across the Atlantic Ocean, with a planned stopover in Europe and North Africa, before returning to its starting point in Abu Dhabi. If all goes as expected, the aircraft should reach the finish line sometime in late July or early August.

You can follow the Solar Impulse on both Facebook and Twitter to get updates on the plane's progress.

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