Solar Impulse 2 landed late Tuesday in the Chinese city of Nanjing, finishing the sixth stage of its landmark 12-leg quest to circumnavigate the globe powered only by the sun. With pilot Bertrand Piccard at the controls, the pioneering single-seater aircraft touched down at 11:31 pm (1531 GMT), after a 17-hour trip from the southwestern megacity of Chongqing some 1,190 kilometres away. Its arrival came after repeated meteorological delays and its other Swiss co-pilot, Andre Borschberg, returned to Europe to be treated for migraines.
Borschberg is expected to return to China by Friday, a Solar Impulse 2 spokesperson told AFP Tuesday. “Wishing good health recovery to my friend (Andre Borschberg),” Piccard said in a Twitter message sent Tuesday morning as he flew high above China’s Yangtze River. “He should have flown this leg.” Borschberg tweeted back with a photo of Piccard in the cockpit and a message that the pilot—clad in an orange flight suit, blue air mask and dark sunglasses—was “looking great after more than 10 hours of flight”.
Nanjing, located near Shanghai along the lower reaches of the Yangtze, is the final stop for the aircraft before it departs on the most ambitious leg of its journey: a solo non-stop flight for five days and nights across the Pacific to Hawaii, a distance of 8,500 kilometres (5,270 miles). Via Solar plane lands in east China ahead of most ambitious leg.