The pilot of record-breaking Solar Impulse 2 pledged today to continue his adventure after the high-tech aircraft made an unexpected stop in Japan to avoid bad weather. Also Read - Xiaomi confirms plans to enter two new countries; Sweden launch on November 13
The landing in Nagoya, on Japan’s main island, concluded what had been the aircraft’s longest non-stop period of flight. Also Read - SoftBank partners Paytm to launch payments service in Japan
But it nevertheless cut short what was due to have been a marathon trip across the Pacific Ocean, the longest single leg of an effort to raise awareness of green energy by circumnavigating the globe powered only by the sun. Also Read - Solar Impulse 2 takes off on its 4-day trans-Atlantic flight
“#Si2 is now parked in Nagoya. What a flight! Looking forward to continuing this adventure with @bertrandpiccard,” pilot Andre Borschberg tweeted early today, referring to the mission initiator and fellow pilot Bertrand Piccard.
A small ground crew had been waiting in central Japan to deal with the unplanned landing just before midnight local time (2030 IST).
The main support crew was expected to fly in from Nanjing, China, later today, bringing, amongst other things, a huge inflatable hangar that needs to be assembled in sections to cover the plane, including its 72-metre (236-foot) wings.
Solar Impulse 2 was trying to fly continuously from Nanjing to Hawaii, and planners had expected the 8,500 kilometres (5,250 miles) to take six days and six nights of non-stop flight, with onboard batteries charging up during the day.
But a developing cold front in the Pacific Ocean that forecasters said Borschberg would encounter as he neared Hawaii made the crossing risky, mission controllers decided, ordering the pilot to divert to Japan instead.
At an impromptu press conference around an hour after he touched down, Borschberg told reporters that the diversion was no problem for the success of the mission.
“I would say it has no impact,” he said, adding it was a “great pleasure” to be in Japan, a place he lived 30 years earlier.
Curious locals gathered in a park near the airport today, hoping to get a glimpse of the record-breaking plane, which has 17,000 solar cells and weighs just 2,300 kilograms.
LEDs that festoon the huge wingspan gave the plane an ethereal look as it glided in to land last night, with a taxi driver telling one reporter his fares had been speculating it could be a UFO.