Solar Impulse heads for California

solar impulse moonThe Swiss Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) is now flying above the Pacific Ocean, having left Hawaii at 06:16 local time on Thursday…

This time it’s project initiator and pilot Bertrand Piccard in the cockpit, after his colleague André Borschberg flew the Japan-to-Hawaii segment last July – a record-breaking solar-powered flight of nearly five days and nights.

This marks the ninth leg of Si2’s round-the-world flight, which will take the plane from Kalaeloa Airport in Kapolei, Hawaii, to Moffett Airfield in Mountain View, near San Francisco. It will be a return visit for the team, as Mountain View is where Solar Impulse kicked off its Across America tour in 2013.

Although the weather forecast was good, windy conditions in the wee hours of Thursday morning forced the crew to pull the plane back into the hangar. But the wind died down, much to the relief of the ground crew, mission control in Monaco, and the onlookers gathered at the airport.

Bertrand Piccard told Susan Misicka of swissinfo: It will be my longest flight with Solar Impulse. It will be around four days and I will be alone in the cockpit. The pressure is high for me since André is the professional pilot in our team and has made a perfect flight for the first part of the Pacific crossing. I have to be at the level of André, too. So there is pressure and a lot of unknowns and question marks, but that is adventure and that is why I am really looking forward to going.