After a nonstop 62-hour 29-minute flight, Solar Impulse 2 landed successfully in California early this morning, meaning it has now not only finished its ninth leg, but it has finally crossed the entire Pacific Ocean—a major hurdle of the trip, as rough weather patterns and few places to make emergency landings made it the most dangerous span to fly across.
At 2:44 AM EST (6:44 GMT), after having passed over the Golden Gate Bridge, pilot Bertrand Piccard, the Initiator and Chairman of the project, touched down the completely fuel-less aircraft at Moffett Airfield near Mountain View, CA.
He had flown for three days and two nights straight, which took him across 2,810 miles (4,523 km) of ocean—thanks to the 17,248 solar cells and four batteries that power it through the night. Not that he rested on his laurels during this trip; on Friday, which was Earth Day, he actually video chatted directly from the cockpit to the United Nations, which was meeting in New York to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
“You know, Mr. Secretary-General, what you are doing today in New York by signing the Paris Agreement is more than protecting the environment – it is the launch of the clean revolution,” he said to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, before urging and the UN delegates to continue working hard to change the conversation and actions regarding climate change, according to a Solar Impulse statement. “If an airplane like Solar Impulse 2 can fly day and night without fuel, the world can be much cleaner.”
“Solar Impulse showcases that today exploration is no longer about conquering new territories, because even the moon has already been conquered, but about exploring new ways to have a better quality of life on earth,” he added, according to a press release. “It is more than an airplane: it is a concentration of clean technologies, a genuine flying laboratory, and illustrates that solutions exist today to meet the major challenges facing our society.”
From California, Solar Impulse 2 will fly to several other parts of the U.S., including New York, before continuing on to Europe, North Africa, and finally the place where it began its Round-The-World Solar Flight, Abu Dhabi. Every milestone until then will just emphasize what the organization already knows: The future is clean.
Image credit: Solar Impulse ©