The Solar Impulse 2 aircraft powered solely by energy from the Sun has completed its record-breaking five-day, non-stop cruise across the Pacific Ocean.
“He made it! @andreborschberg just touched down in Hawaii after a record-breaking flight!” Solar Impulse tweeted five minutes before 5pm BST on Friday, referring to Andre Borschberg, Swiss entrepreneur and pilot who was at the controls of the innovative aircraft during the challenging flight.
Borschberg, who relied on yoga to ease the physical pressures of the unique adventure, touched down at the Kalaeloa airport on the main Hawaiian island of Oahu, to the delight of his supporting team including his project partner and fellow pilot Bertrand Piccard.
“Just landed in #Hawaii with @solarimpulse! For @bertrandpiccard and I, it's a dream coming true,” Borschberg tweeted.
Before the landing, the team at mission control in Monaco were joined by Prince Albert of Monaco, a key supporter of the project, who watched the completion of the heroic feat of the Swiss pair.
The plane took off from Japan’s Nagoya on Monday after having been forced to wait for several weeks for the weather to clear. The trans-Pacific leg of the challenging round-the-globe flight originally set out from China, but Borschberg was forced to land due to an impassable wall of clouds.
On Thursday, Borschberg broke the previous record of 76 hours of uninterrupted one-man flying, set in 2006 by deceased American entrepreneur and adventurer Steve Fossett.
Solar Impulse can fly without a drop of fuel day and night thanks to the 17,000 solar cells covering its 72m-long wings.
The plane started its round-the-world trip on March 9 this year. It travels at rather modest speeds of between 50 and 100km/h. It is expected to take 25 flight days to complete the journey, broken down into 12 legs.
The next leg of the flight will be from Honolulu to Phoenix, Arizona, and then Borschberg and Piccard will fly together across the Atlantic on a return path to Abu Dhabi.
Studies, design and construction of the innovative plane took 12 years and the first version of the craft, rolled out in 2009, broke records for heights and distances travelled by a manned solar plane.
In 2013, Borschberg and Piccard crossed the North American continent with an earlier version of the plane.