— -- A pilot has set off from Hawaii on an unprecedented pursuit: to fly around the world in a solar-powered plane.
Swiss aeronaut Bertrand Piccard departed Oahu today bound for Mountain View, California. This is the ninth leg of the attempt to circumnavigate the globe.
Solar Impulse, the organization behind the voyages, was founded by Piccard and Swiss businessman and pilot André Borschberg. The duo hopes that the flights will "promote clean technology solutions to solve climate change."
"If an airplane can fly day and night without fuel, everybody could use these same technologies on the ground to save natural resources and improve quality of life," their website states.
The Solar Impulse plane runs exclusively on energy harnessed from the sun; the energy is stored in batteries on the aircraft. It is the world's "only airplane of perpetual endurance," meaning it is able to fly both day and night without re-fueling. This is the second iteration of the plane. The first version of the plane was irreversibly damaged last summer during a record-breaking 5-day and 5-night flight from Nagoya, Japan, to Hawaii. This flight was also completed without a drop of fuel.