Takeoff for Leg #9!

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Harald and I sketched Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) at its departure last Thursday morning. Arriving at 4:00 a.m., we witnessed final preparations, as well as camera crews getting a pre-launch interview with pilot Bertrand Piccard. Shortly after, the plane was rolled out of the hangar and onto the airfield. Incredibly, only a handful of people are needed to push the plane. Soon all we could see in the distance were the flashing lights of the support vehicles and the dark silhouette of the plane, as the team waited for the breeze to die down.

The takeoff at sunrise was amazing. Within seconds Si2 was off the ground and gliding through the air above us, the propellers spinning so slowly that one would almost expect them to be pedal-powered. The plane had looked visibly fragile on the ground as it was moved to the runway, but once in the air it was as graceful as a giant albatross. Swinging around to face the open sea, Si2 continued to rise slowly into the morning sky, before disappearing from view on its three-day journey to California.

Check the Si2 blog, for updates on this amazing journey. They will be landing in Mountain View, California soon!

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We had a wonderful opportunity to sketch Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) today during a public viewing at Kalaeloa Airport in Kapolei. Seeing the plane a second time (see our blog post of July 2015 for a report on our first encounter), we were again in awe of its size and extreme dimensions (did we mention the 236 ft. wing span?).

Unlike last year, the plane was fully assembled, with solar cells on display and the cockpit interior visible to the public. Informative placards and a promotional video related the challenges of flying around the world with only photons for fuel. The hangar was bustling with energy; viewers surrounded Si2 team members to learn about the flight and the plane, while members of the press dashed through the crowds to document the event.

For us sketchers, Si2 proved a difficult subject again. The extreme lateral dimensions of the plane required heavy use of thumbs and pencils for mapping purposes. The rounded, unconventional shapes of the body and cockpit proved tricky to capture too.

Talking to one of the Si2 team members we learned that the plane is scheduled to depart for its next leg (destination: Phoenix, AZ) as soon as the weather allows, but no earlier than April 15. Keep an eye on the news and the mission website to learn about the actual date. Takeoff will be early in the morning and should be quite a sight!

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As always, don’t forget to check out the day’s sketches on the USkO Flickr page.