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Solar Impulse 2 Begins Journey Across the Atlantic

  • VOA News

FILE - Solar Impulse 2 flies over San Francisco, April 23, 2016.

FILE - Solar Impulse 2 flies over San Francisco, April 23, 2016.

Equipped with nothing but the energy from the sun, a solar-powered plane took off from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport early Monday morning on the 15th leg of its journey around the world.

The Solar Impulse 2 has begun one of the most hazardous parts of its worldwide sojourn -- a flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

Swiss aviator Bertrand Piccard is at the helm. He and his compatriot Andre Borschberg have taken turns solo piloting the single-seat aircraft.

Piccard will take short naps during the 90-hour flight across the Atlantic. He and Borschberg have learned meditation and hypnosis as part of their training to help them stay alert for long periods of time. Borschberg piloted the plane across the Pacific Ocean -- from Nagoya, Japan to Hawaii: a 118-hour endeavor.

Solar Impulse is expected to land in Spain, perhaps France -- depending on weather conditions.

The carbon fiber Solar Impulse 2 has a 72-meter wingspan, which is longer than the wingspan of a Boeing 747 and weighs about as much as an automobile. The 17,000 solar cells built into the wings harness the sun's energy and charge onboard batteries.

Piccard and Borschberg say they aim to demonstrate that alternative energy sources and new technologies can achieve what some consider impossible -- like flight without fuel.

Their goal is to return to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates where the trip began in March of 2015.