Solar Impulse touches down on unscheduled Japan stop

The Solar Impulse 2 touches down at Nagoya airport in Japan on MOnday night (June 1). -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The Solar Impulse 2 touches down at Nagoya airport in Japan on MOnday night (June 1). -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NAGOYA (AFP) - The record-breaking Solar Impulse 2 landed safely in Nagoya, Japan on Monday night, a correspondent at the scene reported, on an unscheduled stop caused by bad weather over the Pacific.

A live stream from mission control in Monaco showed flight controllers erupting in cheers and applause as the plane touched the tarmac in central Japan.

The high-tech aircraft had set off from Nanjing in China more than 40 hours earlier, bound for Hawaii, a distance of some 8,500 kilometres that it was expected to cover in a six-day, six-night non-stop flight.

It was the seventh leg of a round-the-world flight that began in Abu Dhabi in March.

But mission controllers determined earlier Monday that weather over the Pacific that the plane would encounter as it neared Hawaii made the flight too risky and diverted it to Japan.

Pilot Andre Borschberg, 62, who had spent much of the day in a holding pattern over the Sea of Japan (East Sea), headed south towards Nagoya, where he was met by a skeleton support crew.