After nearly 118 grueling consecutive hours over the Pacific Ocean, the sun-powered Solar Impulse 2 is back on land — and freshly stamped into aviation record books.
Pilot Andre Borschberg landed the plane on the Hawaiian island of Oahu on Friday morning, five days after he took off from Japan — ending the longest and most dangerous leg in his team’s attempt to fly around the world without a drop of fuel.
The leg — the eighth of a planned 13 — set a record for the world’s longest nonstop solo flight in terms of time. It also was the longest flight in time and distance (more than 8,200 kilometers, or 5,100 miles) for a plane run only on solar power, organizers said.
After landing at Oahu’s Kalaeloa Airport, Borschberg opened the cockpit door and waved to a cheering crowd.
Borschberg — having been seated for five straight days — didn’t attempt to stand until another 50 minutes passed. Someone climbed up to the cabin to give him a leg massage before he finally stepped onto a platform.
“So much joy. So much incredible feeling,” the Swiss pilot said moments later.
After weeks of weather delays, Borschberg set off Sunday from Japan on a journey across the Pacific.
The aircraft was in a holding pattern near Hawaii for hours, waiting for optimal landing conditions. The Solar Impulse team’s Twitter feed described seeing the plane’s landing lights in the skies above Hawaii as a “very emotional moment.”