Solar Impulse forced to land in Japan

A record-breaking attempt to cross the Pacific Ocean using a solar-powered plane has been aborted due to poor weather conditions. The pilot, Andre Borschberg, was 36 hours into what was expected […]

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A record-breaking attempt to cross the Pacific Ocean using a solar-powered plane has been aborted due to poor weather conditions.

The pilot, Andre Borschberg, was 36 hours into what was expected to be a six-day journey from China to Hawaii. The aircraft, Solar Impulse was forced to head back to Japan to land.

The team will now wait in Japan for clearer skies before attempting to continue. The plane headed towards Nagoya in Japan at 8.05am, Solar Impulse tweeted.

This is the seventh leg in an attempt to fly around the globe using just the energy of the sun.

The team already had to wait for a month in Nanjing, China for the right weather conditions.

The plane, which is covered in 17,000 solar cells, needs favourable winds to push forward and cloud-free skies during the day to soak up enough energy from the sun to enable it to fly during the night.

The team’s meteorologists thought they had identified a suitable weather window, so the plane set off at 18:39 GMT on Saturday.

The pilot, who is flying solo, had been making good progress, however in the early hours of Monday morning, the Solar Impulse team announced it was putting the plane in a holding pattern while they assessed a worsening forecast.

The pilot was asked to circle over the Sea of Japan while meteorologists assessed whether they could find their way through a worsening weather front close to Hawaii.

They have now decided not to proceed. After a certain point, if anything goes wrong, the only option is for the pilot to bail out into the ocean.