Solar Impulse Plane Lands in Japan Due to Bad Weather - NBC Bay Area
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Solar Impulse Plane Lands in Japan Due to Bad Weather

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    Solar Impulse Plane Lands in Japan Due to Bad Weather
    ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
    The Swiss-made solar-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 takes off from Nanjing Lukou International Airport on May 31, 2015 in Nanjing, China. The plane left China for Hawaii on Sunday morning.

    A solar-powered plane attempting to circle the globe without a drop of fuel made an unscheduled landing late Monday in Japan to wait out bad weather.

    Swiss pilot André Borschberg took off from Nanjing, China, on Sunday on what was to be the longest leg of the journey, a six-day, 8,175-kilometer (5,079-mile) flight to Hawaii.

    Instead, the Solar Impulse 2 made an unscheduled visit in central Japan, and landed safely at the Nagoya Airport.

    Japanese Transport Ministry and Nagoya airport officials said earlier that they were arranging for the landing to occur after the airport's usual closing hours to accommodate the plane with a wide wingspan.

    Live Internet feed on the organizers' website showed crewmembers in the control room applauding and cheering at the landing.

    Elke Neumann, a spokeswoman for the Solar Impulse project, said from Nanjing that the team had noticed the weather more than a day ago.

    "We thought we might go through it," she said. "But between Japan and Hawaii there's no place to stop."

    The safety of the pilot and the plane are a priority, and they will likely wait a few days in Japan until the weather changes, she said.

    Solar Impulse 2 needs room to land, so it generally avoids times when commercial flights are operating, Neuman said. The plane also usually lands at night, because the winds tend to be lower. It needs wind to be no more than 10 knots, she said.

    "We are a little bit sad, because everything's functioning perfectly: The batteries are charging, there's enough sun, the pilot is in good health, he's in good condition — it's all working well," Neumann said.

    The journey started in March in Abu Dhabi, and the plane has stopped in Oman, India, Myanmar and China. The flight from Nanjing to Hawaii is the seventh of 12 flights and the riskiest.