Solar Impulse 2 crosses Pacific

Solar Impulse 2 (Getty)
Solar Impulse 2 (Getty)

A solar-powered plane attempting to navigate the world without any fuel has touched down in California after three days in the air.

"It's a new era. It's not science fiction. It's today," Solar Impulse 2 pilot Bertrand Piccard told CNN on landing. "It exists and clean technologies can do the impossible."

Solar Impulse 2 landed just before midnight (local time), having taken off from Hawaii three days earlier. Battery damage had stranded it on the Pacific Island for 10 months.

The plane has the wingspan of a 747 but weighs about the same as an SUV. It only travels about the same speed as a car.

Its ultimate destination is Abu Dhabi. The next leg will be a four-day trip to Phoenix, Arizona later this month. Then it's across North America to Europe, with the journey finishing in Abu Dhabi this summer.

Solar Impulse 2 was meant to finish the journey last year, but weather, storm damage and battery problems have stalled its progress. The ship's backers remain optimistic however.

"Nobody's done this before," says managing director Gregory Blatt. "There's no guidebook. There's no best practice."