A solar-powered plane has successfully crossed the Pacific as part of an effort to "demonstrate that clean technologies can achieve impossible goals". The Solar Impulse 2 jet landed in Mountain View in the Silicon Valley south of San Francisco, California after a 62-hour non-stop flight from Hawaii.
As he soaked in the glorious San Francisco skyline, Pilot Bertrand Piccard declared: "I crossed the bridge. I am officially in America." Piccard had earlier flown the plane over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge much to the awe of spectators on the ground.
The plane, which runs on the sun's rays rather than fossil fuels, has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. It also peppered with 17,000 photovoltaic cells which power its propellers and charge its batteries. It weighs in at 2.3 tonnes and runs on stored energy at night.
As part of the global journey, Piccard and his colleague André Borschberg are completing different phases. After setting off from Abu Dhabi in March 2015, the plane has stopped in Oman, Myanmar, China, Japan and Hawaii – where it had been grounded since July after experiencing battery damage following a five-day flight to the islands located in the central Pacific.
The latest journey is the riskiest of the plane's worldwide journey due to a lack of emergency landing sites. The jet typically cruises at a speed of 28mph (45kph), but it can reach double that depending on the strength of the sun's rays.
Dream of green flight
The Swiss pilots are hoping their impressive feat will "promote clean technology solutions to solve climate change". Borschberg is set to take the hot seat for the next leg to New York, where the team will get ready to travel across the Atlantic Ocean.
A manifesto on Solar Impulse's website reads: "We want to demonstrate the importance of clean technologies for sustainable development, and to place dreams and emotions back at the heart of scientific adventure.
"The public, which gets excited about great adventures, is ready to join the dreams of pioneers and explorers. Solar Impulse wants to mobilize this enthusiasm in favor of technologies that will allow decreased dependence on fossil fuels and induce positive emotions about renewable energies.
"Public attention must be drawn towards the changes necessary to ensure our planet's energy and ecological future. Also, a positive and stimulating image of environmental protection must demonstrate that the alternative energy sources, related to new technologies, can achieve what some consider impossible."