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Solar Impulse Pilot Andre Borschberg Breaks Solo Endurance Flight Record

by Devin Coldewey /  / Updated 

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The Solar Impulse solar-powered plane was most of the way from Japan to Hawaii on Wednesday, and after 76 hours and 45 minutes at the helm, pilot Andre Borschberg broke the world record for solo endurance flight. Adventurer and renowned pilot Steve Fossett set the previous record in 2006, traveling 26,389 miles over 76 hours.

Borschberg has been flying solo since Solar Impulse took off at dawn on June 28 from Nagoya, Japan, where it had been stuck for weeks in bad weather. The flight over the shark-filled western Pacific is a particularly dangerous and lonely one — no ground radar or emergency landing spots for hundreds of miles in every direction.

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Solar Impulse set off from Abu Dhabi in March in a multi-leg attempt to fly around the world without a single drop of fuel. The 1,380-mile leg from Japan to Hawaii will be the longest flight ever attempted on solar power, and after the 44-hour mark broke the previous record for solar flight — set a few weeks ago by the same plane. Borschberg's flying partner (monitoring from elsewhere) sent a series of congratulatory tweets.

With a bit more than a day to go as of Wednesday, Borschberg is surely feeling the effects of being restricted in the small cockpit for so long — but snatches of sleep and yoga in the cabin keep him limber and ready for anything.

Solar Impulse is scheduled to touch down on Friday in Hawaii, at which point it will have set a number of records not likely to be broken any time soon.

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