In early March, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, who are both Swiss pilots, engineers and environmentalists, began an epic around-the-world journey in a solar-powered plane called the Solar Impulse 2. They began their journey and Abu Dhabi and they will end it in the Middle East.
The trip is arduous and difficult: Only one pilot can be in the plane at a time, and he can sleep for only 20 minutes at a time. Because the rigors of the journey will be hard on both men and plane, Borschberg and Piccard have broken it up unto 12 legs. That will let the pilots rest and give the plane any needed repairs in between flights.
So far, they have successfully completed six legs. The upcoming seventh leg will be the most challenging and dangerous so far: a five day trip from China to Hawaii across the Pacific Ocean. It will be the first time that anybody has piloted a solar plane across an ocean. Borschberg will be piloting this leg. Piccard will meet him in Hawaii and then take the plane to Phoenix.
Indeed and Madison Street Capital recently noted that if something goes wrong during the ocean crossing, Borschberg has a parachute and an inflatable raft with him. A team of weather experts in Monaco has been trying to prevent the need for either item by trying to predict the weather. They want to make sure Borschberg can make his ocean crossing during five days of sunny weather. So far, the weather has not been cooperating, and Borschberg’s departure has been delayed by three weeks so far.
The Solar Impulse 2 relies completely on solar power. The sun powers the plane and fuels the battery which keeps the plane flying throughout the night. The plane has a wingspan of 236 feet and weighs about as much as a car. It also has only one seat.