Solar Impulse commences Pacific voyage

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Nanjing: The only solar powered aircraft in the world, Solar Impulse on sundae commenced for a six-day, six-night flight over the pacific in its quest for circumnavigating the world, powered only by sun.

Pilot Andre Borschberg, 62, left the ground in Nanjing, in eastern China, heading for the US island of Hawaii, at about 2:40am (1840 GMT), after extended delays awaiting a suitable weather window over safety concerns.

Lit by white lights on its wings, the plane rolled down the runway before climbing into a misty sky with its four whirling propellers nearly silent.

The plane is the successor of Solar Impulse, which notched up a 26-hour flight in 2010, proving its ability to store enough power in lithium batteries during the day to keep flying at night.

Ridiculed by the aviation industry when it was first unveiled, the Solar Impulse venture has since been hailed around the world, including by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.