- Swiss pilot Piccard commences three-day flight to California
- Aircraft was grounded for nine months after battery glitch
The Solar Impulse aircraft grounded in Hawaii last year has resumed its attempt to circumnavigate the globe powered by the sun’s rays.
Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard restarted the record attempt at about 6:20 a.m. local time on Thursday from Kalaeloa airport, east of Honolulu, bound for Mountain View on San Francisco Bay, California.
The aircraft, which has the wingspan of a Boeing Co. 747 jumbo jet but weighs no more than a family car, should take three days to complete the trip, with Piccard able to take only intermittent naps while flying.
Solar Impulse began its journey from Abu Dhabi in March 2015, with the aim of completing its tour that year to showcase the potential of renewable energy. The plane was grounded in July after battery temperatures surged during what was meant to be a five-day flight from Nagoya, Japan, to the U.S.
Prior to the latest takeoff Piccard described the journey as ‘‘a big challenge.” Some 35 minutes into the flight the Solar Impulse website showed the plane 16 miles (26 kilometers) into its trip and climbing through a height of 4,000 feet.