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The Two-Way

Pilot In Solar-Powered Plane Sets Aviation Record

A sun-powered airplane has landed in Hawaii after a five-day journey from Japan that smashed the previous record of 76 hours for the longest duration nonstop solo flight.

Pilot André Borschberg set the Solar Impulse 2 down on the tarmac at Kalaeloa Airport outside Honolulu after flying for 120 hours from Nagoya, his team reports.

As The Two-Way's Bill Chappell wrote last week, the Japan-to-Hawaii leg is the 13th stage of a planned circumnavigation for Solar Impulse.

Borschberg is flying every other leg, alternating with Bertrand Piccard, who in 1999 completed a first-ever non-stop balloon circumnavigation.

Bill writes:

"The attempt at a fuel-free circumnavigation began in March; before arriving in Japan, the plane flew from Abu Dhabi to India, and China. Its organizers plan to fly from Hawaii to Phoenix before heading on to New York and then Europe.

"The Solar Impulse has 17,000 solar cells on its surface; it stores power in lithium-ion batteries that 'account for about 1,400 of the craft's overall weight of some 5,000 pounds,' as we've reported."

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U.S. adventurer Steve Fossett, who died in a plane accident in 2007, set the previous record of 76 hours the year before his death when he flew the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer around the globe in 2006.

The Solar Impulse 2 has already broken all distance records for a solar-powered airplane.

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