Solar plane takes on Atlantic as part of
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[June 21, 2016]
By Chris Michaud
NEW YORK (Reuters) - An airplane powered
solely by energy from the sun headed across the Atlantic early on
Monday, on one of the longest legs of the first-ever flight around the
globe without using a drop of fuel.
The spindly, single-seat Solar Impulse 2 left John F. Kennedy
International Airport at about 2:30 a.m. EDT on a trip expected to
take up to 90 hours, the 15th leg of its round-the-world journey.
Swiss aviators Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg have been
taking turns piloting the plane, which has more than 17,000 solar
cells built into wings whose span exceeds that of a Boeing 747, with
Piccard at the controls for the transatlantic flight.
The airplane's slow cruising speed, similar to that of a car, has
required both men to take up meditation and hypnosis as part of
training to stay alert for long periods.
Solar Impulse 2 is due to land sometime on Thursday in Spain or
France, with the precise location to be determined later depending
on weather conditions, said Elizabeth Banta, a spokeswoman for the
The carbon-fiber, propeller-driven plane has four solar-powered
engines and four batteries to store surplus energy. It weighs the
same as a family car and can climb to 28,000 feet (8,500 m).
The team behind Solar Impulse - part of a campaign to build support
for clean energy technologies - hopes to complete the
circumnavigation in Abu Dhabi, where the journey began in March
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The solar-powered plane Solar Impulse 2, piloted by Swiss aviator
Bertrand Piccard, is pictured before taking off from at John F.
Kennedy International Airport in New York, U.S. in this handout
received June 20, 2016. Christophe Chammartin, Jean
Revillard/SI2/Handout via REUTERS
Piccard and Borschberg completed a multi-flight crossing of the
United States with an earlier version of the plane in 2013.
Borschberg set an endurance record for the longest non-stop solo
flight last July in a 118-hour trans-Pacific crossing from Japan to
(Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; editing by
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