Solar Impulse 2 departs Honolulu after months-long delay

After months of waiting, Solar Impulse 2 has left the islands to continue its journey around the world using only solar power.

The plane was grounded in Honolulu since last July due to battery damage.

Now that everything is fixed, the plane took off from Kalaeloa Airport in the early morning hours of Thursday, April 21.

The sight of the Solar Impulse 2 being pulled out of the hangar was an impressive sight.

Before the flight, we got to speak with the two pilots flying the plane around the world.

Capt. Bertrand Piccard, who is piloting this leg, was once nervous about flying a solar plane over the ocean, “and this morning I am so confident, because the training flights here went well. The team has made a fantastic job. The weather looks good, but of course it is exploration, and we don’t know, so we have to be prepared for everything.”

Speaking of exploration, master navigator Nainoa Thompson of the Polynesian Voyaging Society was on hand to wish the adventurers well.

Although their separate crafts are generations different from each other, they share an appreciation of what surrounds them.

“Just using the sun and that is powerful,” Thompson said. “It’s interesting that we come from two different worlds. They come from the other side of the planet, and our friendship with the pilots has been instantaneous, innate.”

The around-the-world flight has been met with numerous challenges, and that was also the case Thursday morning.

Strong winds actually led them to pull the plane back inside the hangar, but then shortly after 6 a.m., it happened. The plane with the wingspan of a 747, and weighing about the same as a sedan, took flight.

It was a huge victory for a team who spent nine months here repairing batteries damaged in the flight from Japan.

“Concentration and emotions. For (Piccard), this is a very important flight because he had this idea to fly with renewable energy 16 or 17 years ago,” said Capt. Andre Borschberg. “This is the first time today he will do a day-and-night flight cycle, and for him, I think it represents a lot.”

Many people came out to see the historic liftoff, including the next generation of explorers.

“I came to see Solar Impulse 2, which is a really interesting plane,” said observer Alex Kelly. “It’s one of the first solar planes to fly around the world, or that is going to fly around the world.”

It will take approximately three days for the plane to arrive at Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View, Calif.

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