The momentous journey is a world first, and despite some inclement weather conditions, the team is on track for a successful result.
The sixth leg of the flight is now complete, with Solar Impulse 2 taking a well-earned rest stop in China where it will go through servicing for the next 10 days before preparing for a daunting five-day crossing of the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii.
‘The more I fly, the more energy I have in the batteries,’ Bertrand Piccard told Fairfax Media once grounded.
‘The sun is enough to make this fly forever – you never need to refuel, so it's a fantastic feeling.’
Piccard had to complete the sixth leg solo, as co-pilot Andre Borscheberg temporarily headed back to Switzerland for medical check-ups after reporting migraine complaints.
The next leg of the journey over the Pacific, along with the five-day crossing of the Atlantic, is the most difficult leg of the journey. As the plane will fly non-stop, conditions must be absolutely perfect.
But this is what the pilots have trained for, and they’re both ready to meet the challenges that face them head on.
‘Andre uses techniques of yoga, I use the technique of self-hypnosis,’ Piccard said,
‘We trained in a flight simulator and it works very well.’
Support crews are on hand at each stop with a mobile hangar to protect the plane and its 17,248 solar cells that power four 17.4 horse-power propeller engines. In calm conditions, Solar Impulse 2 can fly at 128kms an hour – all with nothing but the energy produced from the sun.
‘The goal is to demonstrate what can be done – what incredible things can be done – with renewable energy and clean technologies,’ Piccard said. ‘This is what drives us.’
The global journey is planned to just over five months, starting and finishing in the sun-scorched deserts of Abu Dhabi.
Stay tuned for more updates on Solar Impulse 2 as the Swiss duo inch closer towards a historic finish.