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Solar Impulse 2 nears Hawaii on historic flight

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Solar Impulse 2 nears Hawaii on historic flight
Borschberg in the cockpit of the solar plane. Photo: Solar Impulse
12:23 CEST+02:00
After more than four and a half days of flying across the Pacific and setting a record for solo flight, Switzerland's Solar Impulse 2 airplane was set to arrive in Hawaii on Friday on its epic journey around the world.

By noon Swiss time the solar-powered plane was just 185 kilometres from Kalaeloa on the island of Oahu, where pilot André Borschberg appeared to be circling the aircraft to time a landing for maximum media exposure.

A flight radar website clearly showed the plane heading toward Honolulu before doubling back and forth.

The Solar Impulse website at noon Swiss time showed the plane had accomplished 97 percent of its trip after travelling almost 8,000 kilometres from Nagoya, Japan.

In Hawaii it was still the middle of the night.

Borscherg, a former Swiss Air Force pilot, is alone in the spindly aircraft, with four propellors powered by 17,000 solar cells in the wings with rechargeable lithium batteries.

The Solar Impulse team said he was battling fatigue in the 3.8-cubic metre unpressurized cockpit after napping only 20 minutes at a time.

The team tweeted earlier that Borschberg was dealing with a "difficult situation" with turbulence at 8'000 feet and "a cold front close". 

But he appeared to have gained a second wind as he neared Hawaii, nearing completion of one of the most challenging legs on the round-the-world journey.

The pilot said he had relied on yoga to help hime get through the long flight in a confined space.

"Yoga is a huge support for this flight above the Pacific; it positively affects my mood and my mindset," he tweeted.

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