Solar plane completes flight from Hawaii to Bay Area


A Swiss pilot successfully completed a three-day flight Saturday night from Hawaii to Moffitt Field in Santa Clara County in a solar-powered plane.

Bertrand Piccard, a pilot and medical doctor, along with a team on the ground that included his partner Andre Borschberg, an entrepreneur and pilot, landed the Solar Impulse 2 at 11:45 p.m.

The flight was part of a larger trip to take Solar Impulse 2 around the world.

The aim of the men was to show others how to help sustain the Earth’s environment and also to show that the world can be run on clean energy, according to a news release by the team.

Piccard took off from Kalaeloa Airport in Honolulu at 6:15 a.m. local time Thursday. He was at the controls for about 62 hours in the plane that seats one, has a wingspan of 72 meters and weighs 5,100 pounds.

The flight is similar to another historic flight made by Amelia Earhart, who flew from Honolulu to Oakland in 1935. A significant difference in the two flights is that Earhart’s plane carried 500 gallons of gasoline whereas the Solar Impulse 2 runs on only energy from the sun.

Piccard and Borschberg’s plane gathers the sun’s energy in 17,248 solar cells. The plane stores that energy during the day in four lithium batteries, which power four motors and propellers allowing the plane to fly at night.

Solar Impulse 2 landed Saturday night with about 46 percent of its energy left, according to a live stream of the flight on the internet.

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