Solar Impulse departs for its 5th and most challenging flight to date

30 March 2015 – The solar aircraft departed from the Mandalay International Airport this morning at 3:36 am local time (9:06 pm GMT [March 29th]) attempting the most challenging flight since having started the Round-The-World journey, to reach Chongqing (China). The anticipated 19 hours of flying time and 1,375 kilometers of distance covered will be physically demanding for Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard, due to the prolonged use of oxygen required in the unpressurized cockpit, in which Bertrand Piccard will face temperatures descending to minus 20 degrees celsius.

The flight will be demanding with respect to the steep ascent and limited time allowed for high altitude preparation as Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) will fly over mountains at the beginning of the flight. Si2 is subsequently expected to remain at a flying altitude of roughly 7,300 meters during the majority of the flight.

Flight #5: Mandalay (Myanmar) to Chongqing (China)
Pilot: Bertrand Piccard, Initiator and Chairman of Solar Impulse
When: Took-off at 3:36 am local time India (9:06 pm GMT March 29th, 2015) Expected landing at 5:15 pm GMT on March 30th
Distance: 1,375 kilometers
Estimated Flight time: 19 hours

The solar powered aircraft is anticipating entering Chinese airspace 6 hours after take-off. Once in China, the weather forecasted is mainly clear skies – a rare situation in the region. However, strong, low level winds up to 40 knots are expected in Chongqing, which will require the pilot to tackle these challenging conditions.

André Borschberg will continue onward to Nanjing (China) after Bertrand Piccard completed the leg to Chongqing. It is possible that the Mission Director, Raymond Clerc, gives the green light for a take-off to Nanjing just a few hours after arrival in Chongqing.The decision will depend on the amount of energy remaining in the batteries after landing. The mission team does not yet know if there will be sufficient charge in the batteries to allow for a "pitstop",i.e. a take-off from Chongqing just a few hours after arrival because one solar cell was damaged during our stay in Mandalay, and our capacity to capture solar energy has been reduced by 2%.

During the coming months, Piccard and Borschberg will cross the Pacific Ocean and stop in the USA, Northern Africa or Southern Europe before returning to Abu Dhabi to complete its circumnavigation of the world.

Swiss pilots, Bertrand Piccard (Initiator and chairman) and André Borschberg (co-founder and CEO), will continue their journey , travelling 35,000 kilometers around the globe accumulating 500 flight hours over 5 months to spread the message that clean technologies can be achieved through a pioneering spirit.

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