The Solar Impulse 2, the plane attempting to fly around the world using only solar power, has arrived in Nanjing in the East of China at last.
Due to the poor weather condition in China, what was supposed to be an overnight pit stop in the southwestern city of Chongqing turned out to be a two-and-a-half week stay. It's an unexpected layover that is testing the patience of the pilots and more than 60 team members, just a quarter of the way along a journey that will cover some 35,000 kilometers (21,748 miles) over five months.
"You can believe that your will can influence the weather," says pilot Bertrand Piccard, who comes from a long family line of explorers. But "then you'll be really disappointed because it doesn't work. "Or you just know that it's an adventure you do with the forces of nature."
The next 10 days will be spent giving Solar Impulse a thorough servicing. Meteorologists on the Swiss team, which has its mission control in Monaco, will then look for a suitable weather window for the ocean flight.
It will be done in two stages, with the first reaching over to Hawaii - a distance from Nanjing of 8,000km. For the slow-moving aircraft, this will entail being airborne continuously for several days and nights. In simulations done last year, the weather opening was found quite quickly, but the team recognizes also that its stay in Nanjing could be a long one.
"I think 10 days is the time we need to get ready. Then we need to wait for a good weather window," explained mission director Raymond Clerc. "That could be three days; we could have to wait three weeks - because this leg is really the most important and is very complex. To go towards Hawaii could last five days and five nights."
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