Solar Impulse 2 arrives in California

IDG News Service | Apr 24, 2016

The solar-powered Solar Impulse 2 aircraft arrived in Silicon Valley late Saturday night. It was the ninth leg on its trip around the world.

After 3 days and 2 nights in the air, Solar Impulse 2 lands in California on its solar-powered trip around the world.

The plane touched down at Moffett Field in Silicon Valley at just before midnight on Saturday evening capping a 63-hour journey for pilot Bertrand Picard, who was only able to take 20 minute naps as he crossed the Pacific.

“Good morning California.”

The arrival is symbolic for two reasons. It means the plane is another step closer to circumnavigating the globe without using a single drop of fuel and marks a successful resumption of the mission, which has been stalled for the past 8 months in Hawaii due to battery problems and poor weather.

Around a hundred people were on hand to see it land, including Google CEO Sergey Brin, who was spotted talking to Picard after the landing.

A few hours before touchdown, Picard took in the sights of nearby San Francisco, giving residents a chance to see the unique carbon-fiber plane which has a wingspan greater than a Boeing 747.

Its top is covered in solar panels that power up four batteries, which provide enough energy to keep it flying all night before the recharging starts again the next morning. A problem with that system caused the delay in Hawaii, but now its back on track.

Picard told me he planned the ambitious global flight to highlight what’s possible with clean energy.

“Today, if we were to replace to old polluting devices with modern clean technology, we could divide by two the CO2 emissions and at the same time we would create jobs and make profit. So we have to explain that today, protecting the environment is profitable and it was not the case in the past.”

He says green technology has reached that stage where is no longer represents a financial sacrifice. It makes financial and ecological sense to adopt new technologies.

“CO2 is not just something that destroys the environment, CO2 is something that destroys the industry because it’s not efficient, because it’s more expensive. If we explain things in a logical way, we don’t need to be ecological any more. Logical is enough.”

Next week, he plans to take that message to Phoenix, then to New York before heading across the Atlantic towards Abu Dhabi, where the flight began and where it’s scheduled to end later this year.