An experimental solar-powered plane flying around the globe has landed in California on April 24 after almost three days of nonstop journeying across the Pacific.

Solar Impulse 2, piloted by Swiss psychiatrist and explorer Bertrand Piccard, touched down in Mountain View at 3 a.m. EST. It took off from Hawaii on April 21, after being stalled on Oahu island for nearly 10 months.

The milestone saw the solar aircraft – with a Boeing 747’s wingspan, but approximating the weight of an SUV – flying over the Golden Gate Bridge and into the San Francisco Bay.

“It’s a new era. It’s not science fiction. It’s today,” the pilot told CNN after the voyage, emphasizing that clean technologies can get the job done.

Shortly before the on-schedule landing, co-pilot and Swiss engineer Andre Borschberg said the technology proves to be reliable.

It wasn’t a walk in the park for the pilots, who completed a three-day flight across the Pacific’s great expanse with only 20 minutes of sleep every time inside the small cockpit. There was no heat or air conditioning inside, and they had to constantly touch base with the control center in Monaco.

According to Piccard, the flight was marked by a lot of health checks, including interviews, navigation control and communications. The pilot revealed using self-hypnosis to keep his energy up and used gloves and heating pads in his shoes for warmth.

The solar-driven plane travels at around the same speed as a car, with the Hawaii to California leg – deemed the riskiest due to the absence of emergency landing sites – taking a bit more than 6 hours to finish. The two pilots take turns flying it as it took off from Abu Dhabi in the UAE back in March 2015, and as it traveled through Oman, Myanmar, China, Japan and Hawaii.

“Nobody’s done this before,” Gregory Blatt, Solar Impulse managing director, said about flying the solar plane, which requires almost-perfect conditions because it is the sun that determines the flight schedule and conditions.

The plane’s wings are packed with 17,000 solar cells that run the propellers and charge batteries. Stored energy fuels the aircraft at night.

The achievements of Solar Impulse 2, however, are not without a number of setbacks. In July 2015, it was forced to stay in Hawaii given its battery system’s heat damage coming from its Japan trip. When it also first tried to fly from Nanjing in China to Hawaii, it had to divert to Japan no thanks to a damaged wing and unfriendly weather.

The solar plane project, which has Google as its sponsor, is estimated to be worth more than $100 million. It was born in 2002 to demonstrate advances in renewable energy and innovations relating to use of clean technologies.

Commercial solar-powered air travel is currently impeded by weather limitations, slow travel time and the aircraft’s weight constraint, but in 20 years, it could already be routine given the prevalence of engines using the sun’s energy by that time, envisioned Piccard.

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