On March 9, 2015, pilot Andre Borschberg lifted his experimental aircraftSolar Impulse 2 from the Abu Dhabi runway. His bold plan: to fly a fully solar powered airplane around the entire globe without using a drop of fossil fuel.
In the stirring documentary The Impossible Flight, we ride the roller coaster of challenges and triumphs that characterized Solar Impulse 2’s epic journey. While the inventors planned to make the trip in 12 legs at an airspeed of 45 miles per hour, the fragile craft was continually thwarted by rough weather and equipment malfunctions.
The toughest moment came when the lightweight vessel was set to fly its longest leg over the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Hawaii—a grueling five-day trek through adverse weather systems. The pilot had to sit in a fixed position for almost the entire trip, with the exception of occasional 20-minute power naps. As the flight neared the midway point of no return, the team’s on-ground meteorologists and engineers sadly concluded that the weather ahead was too dangerous, and feverishly urged the pilot to turn back. But the pilot refused. “I have a very good feeling we can do it,” he replied, and pressed on. After two more harrowing days threading the needle between storms, Borschberg landed safely in Honolulu. SI2 later went on to return to its starting point, 504 days after its departure.
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