Will Solar Impulse 2 inspire a whole fleet of solar-powered planes?

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Marco Werman: We left you hanging with a story the other day. We also left pilot André Borschberg hanging in a solar-powered plane over the Pacific Ocean.


John Hansman: This particular flight is really on the edge of the envelope. It’s a five-day flight; he’s committed now, he’s past the point of no return. So, making Hawaii- They’re really exposed right now.


Werman: That was John Hansman of MIT on our tuesday edition of The World. He was telling us about Borschberg’s flight on Solar Impulse II, a plane completely powered by the sun. A few days back, Borschberg was beginning the longest leg of an around the world trip in the plane, a five-day solo flight across the Pacific, from Japan to Hawaii. So, did he make it? Well, let’s put it this way: he got a lei around his neck.


[Excerpt from audio]


Werman: Borschberg touched down outside of Honolulu at dawn local time this morning. At 120 hours, it was the longest solo flight ever, and the plane did it without a drop of fuel, powered instead by 17,000 solar cells mounted on its immense wings. Borschberg himself says his own fuel during the flight was just as renewable. He used yoga and meditation. First thing he says he wants to do now after five days in the air? Take a shower. Next stop for Solar Impulse II after a Hawaiian layover: Phoenix, Arizona.