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Solar Impulse hops from California to Arizona

Image: Solar Impulse
The Solar Impulse 2 plane comes in for a landing in Phoenix like a UFO. (Credit: Solar Impulse)

A solar-powered ultralight airplane called Solar Impulse 2 landed in Phoenix tonight after a nearly 16-hour flight from California’s Silicon Valley, finishing up another leg of its environmentally friendly round-the-world odyssey.

The odyssey has been proceeding for more than a year, with occasionally lengthy stopovers. But making time is not the point: If Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg wanted to get to Phoenix quickly, he could have taken a commercial jet flight from San Jose in less than two hours.

Instead, Borschberg lifted off from Moffett Airfield, near San Francisco, at 5:03 a.m. PT. He landed at Phoenix Goodyear Airport at 8:55 p.m. PT (MST) amid gusty winds. The plane was quickly brought inside its hangar for protection.

“It’s more difficult to handle the airplane on the ground than in flight,” Borschberg said jokingly to the crowd that turned out to greet him at the airport. “That’s the reason why we stay so long up there.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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