Solar-powered plane completes trans-Pacific flight, lands in CA

Solar Impulse 2 plane lands successfully in California 10PM
(Image: Solar Impulse)
(Image: Solar Impulse)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (HawaiiNewsNow) - After a more than 63-hour flight from Oahu, the Solar Impulse 2 landed safely in California on Saturday night.

The solar-powered airplane completed the risky, three-day fight across the Pacific Ocean as part of its journey around the world.

Pilot Bertrand Piccard landed the Solar Impulse 2 in Mountain View, in the Silicon Valley south of San Francisco, at 11:45 p.m. following a 62-hour, nonstop solo flight without fuel. The plane taxied into a huge tent erected on Moffett Airfield where Piccard was greeted by project's team.

"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 at a news conference after he landed. "It's maybe this is one of the most fantastic experiences of life I've had."

The plane and crew endured an eight-month delay in the islands after their trip from Nagoya Japan to Hawaii fried the plane's batteries.

The Solar Impulse 2 took off from Kalaeloa Airport on Thursday.

The trans-Pacific leg was the riskiest part of the plane's global travels because of the lack of emergency landing sites.

The plane's ideal flight speed is about 28 mph, though that can double during the day when the sun's rays are strongest. The carbon-fiber aircraft weighs more than 5,000 pounds, or about as much as a midsize truck.

The plane's wings, which stretch wider than those of a Boeing 747, are equipped with 17,000 solar cells that power propellers and charge batteries. The plane runs on stored energy at night.

Solar Impulse 2 will make three more stops in the United States before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Europe or Northern Africa, according to the website documenting the journey.

"The adventure continues," Piccard said. "The story is not finished."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.