Written by Staff Writer
30 Mar, 2015 | 5:05 pm
Solar Impulse, the fuel-free aeroplane, is up in the air again on the fifth leg of its round-the-world flight.
The vehicle, with Bertrand Piccard at the controls, left Mandalay in Myanmar (Burma) just after 21:00 GMT on Sunday, and is heading for Chongqing in China.
The intention is to make a brief stop there, and then try to reach Nanjing on the east coast of the country.
This would set up Solar Impulse for the first of its big ocean crossings – a five-day, five-night flight to Hawaii. Mission control will not make a decision on the Nanjing leg until late on Monday.
The decision may rest on the state of the energy reserves held in the plane’s batteries.
China’s air traffic authorities would like the team to start the sixth leg before dawn. But if the reserves are marginal then Solar Impulse will be held in Chongqing until the batteries can be charged.
The problem with this scenario is that poor weather is forecast in the Chongqing region in the coming days, and if Solar Impulse does not leave straightaway, it could be delayed for perhaps a week.
Solar Impulse took off from Mandalay International Airport in darkness at 03:36 local time, Monday (21:06 GMT Sunday). Leg five is a long one – about 1,375km – and is expected to take roughly 19 hours.
It would see Solar Impulse landing around midnight local time at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport.
Bertrand Piccard is piloti
It is 20 days since the venture got under way from Abu Dhabi.
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