A solar-powered Swiss airplane is scheduled to touch down in Hawaii Friday after a record-breaking flight across the Pacific Ocean, the riskiest leg of its 35,000-kilometer trip around the world without a drop of fuel.
Solar Impulse 2 pilot Andre Borschberg has now beaten the previous longest solo piloting record that was held by American adventurer Steve Fossett.
Borchberg has taken 20-minute naps during the journey in the unpressurized cockpit while the aircraft was on autopilot.
Si2 flew out of Nagoya, Japan early Monday after an unscheduled month-long stop. The aircraft was diverted to Nagoya because of bad weather at the beginning of June on its trip from Nanjing in eastern China to Hawaii. Its final destination is Abu Dhabi.
Si2 is the brainchild of two Swiss scientists, Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard. It took them 12 years to build the aircraft.
The carbon fiber single-seat Si2 has a 72-meter wingspan, which is longer than the wingspan of a Boeing 747, and weighs about as much as a car. The 17,000 solar cells built into the wings harness the sun's energy.
Piccard and Borschberg say they are not out to revolutionize the aviation industry, but are instead aiming to demonstrate that actual alternative energy sources and new technologies can achieve what some consider impossible.
The aircraft's route includes stops in Oman, India, Myanmar and China. After its Pacific voyage, the plane will make up to three stops in the U.S., touching down in Phoenix, Arizona and New York City, and possibly another location depending on weather conditions.
The final legs after crossing the Atlantic include a stopover in southern Europe or North Africa before arriving back in Abu Dhabi, where the journey started, in late July or early August.