New World Record for Solo Flight Set

The Solar Impulse plane in Nagoya, Japan.     Photo: Solar Impulse/Revillard

New World Record for Solo Flight Set

Major step in circumnavigation journey by solar power

André Borschberg, one of the two pilots flying the Solar Impulse 2, set a new record on Wednesday for the longest solo flight in human history, according to a press release.

Borschberg stayed in the air for more than 80 hours in his solar-powered aircraft. He surpassed the record Steve Fossett set in 2006 of 76 hours and 45 minutes. If all goes as planned, his margin of accomplishment will include an additional 40 hours of flying before Borschberg touches down in Kalaeloa, Hawaii, the BBC reported Thursday.

Borschberg’s trans-Pacific journey is only one of 13 legs of a complete circumnavigation of the globe, a project that he and co-pilot Bertrand Piccard first conceived after completing a trip around the world by balloon in 1999. The trip is meant as both a feat of mechanical ingenuity and a statement about the viability of solar power. “We need pioneers who show that impossible things can be done,” Piccard said. “Then industry will take over, and one day everyone will think this is normal.”

The two pilots plan to make sequential landings in Phoenix, Arizona, and New York City before traveling across Europe to Abu Dhabi, where their journey began.

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