A solar-power airplane landed in California late on Saturday night after a three-day flight across the Pacific Ocean. Pilot Bertrand Piccard landed the Solar Impulse 2 in Mountain View after flying nonstop for 62 hours. “You know there was a moment in the night, I was watching the reflection of the moon on the ocean and I was thinking ‘I’m completely alone in this tiny cockpit and I feel completely confident.’ And I was really thankful to life for bringing me this experience,” Piccard said after he landed.
Piccard and fellow pilot André Borschberg are on a mission to take turns to fly the plane around the world, a journey that began in Abu Dhabi in March of last year and has been delayed by technical problems. When Piccard took off from Hawaii on Thursday, the plane had been under repair for nine months after a five-day flight from Japan to Hawaii broke a record for longest nonstop solo flight but destroyed the aircraft’s batteries. So far the plane has made stops in Jordan, Myanmar, China, and Japan. But crossing the Pacific was seen as particularly risky due to a lack of emergency landing sites if anything went wrong.
The plane, which can operate day and night with the energy it harnesses from the sun, “has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 but only weighs about as much as an SUV,” notes CNN. The plane is now scheduled to make several stops in the United States before crossing the Atlantic Ocean.