Solar Impulse: Zero-fuel Plane Makes Forced Landing In Japan

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Solar Impulse, the zero-fuel aeroplane, has landed in Japan after being forced to abort a Pacific crossing due to deteriorating weather ahead of it. The aircraft, which set off from China on Saturday (GMT), had hoped to reach Hawaii by the end of the week. BBC has more:

But a developing cold front over the ocean is blocking its path and pilot Andre Borschberg has decided to play safe by putting down in Nagoya. He will now wait in Japan for a new weather opportunity to present itself. Solar Impulse is attempting to make the first circumnavigation of the globe by an aeroplane powered only by the sun.

The 17,000 photovoltaic cells on its wings drive propellers during the day but also charge batteries that sustain flight during the night. The China-Hawaii stint was to be the seventh leg in the quest that began back in March from Abu Dhabi, UAE. Mr Borschberg brought Solar Impulse into Nagoya airfield at 23:49 local time (14:49 GMT). A line of brilliant LEDs on the front edge of the plane’s wings announced his approach to the runway.

Because Japan was never a scheduled stop, the project has had to scramble to get its ground crew and equipment to the airport to meet the vehicle. This saw the Swiss adventurer having to circle above Nagoya while preparations were made beneath him. Solar Impulse will now be tied down and protected from the elements in a mobile hanger while meteorologists and flight strategists look for a new possibility to cross the Pacific.

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