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pacific crossing


Mitsuhiro Iwamoto, a blind Japanese sailor, has become the first visually impaired person that completed a non-stop Pacific crossing, reports say.

The 52-year-old sailed the 8,700-mile crossing with the help of a sighted navigator.

His 40 ft yacht made port in Fukushima on April 20, ending his two-month trip.

Mitsuhiro Iwamoto left California on February 24 with Doug Smith, an American navigator who assisted him.

His first attempt at the journey in 2013 ended in failure after his boat struck a whale and sank. He had to be rescued by the Japanese military.

Image source Mitsuhiro Iwamoto Facebook

Speaking at the port of Iwaki, Mitsuhiro Iwamoto told Japan’s Kyodo News that completing the challenge on his second attempt was a “dream come true”.

“I’m the happiest person on earth,” Mitsuhiro Iwamoto said, according to the news agency.

The Japanese, who lost his sight aged 16, steered the vessel while Doug Smith gave him verbal guidance, advising him on wind directions and potential hazards.

Mitsuhiro Iwamoto is the first blind person to successfully sail across the Pacific without stopping, the Japan Blind Sailing Association says.

Determined to make the crossing second time around, Mitsuhiro Iwamoto – a Japanese citizen who currently lives in San Diego – took part in triathlons.

Mitsuhiro Iwamoto and Doug Smith made the voyage to raise money for charity and for efforts to prevent diseases that cause blindness.

Solar Impulse 2 has been grounded until next year, the Swiss team trying to fly the solar-powered plane around the world has announced.

Solar Impulse’s batteries were damaged on the last leg of the journey from Japan to Hawaii and will take several months to repair.

The solar-powered plane will be kept at its Pacific stop-over at Kalaeloa airport while the maintenance is undertaken.

Once the work is done there will be some test flights before the global quest resumes in 2016, the team says.

That is likely to be in April, and would see Solar Impulse 2 fly from Hawaii to the West Coast of the US.

It should then have a sizeable weather window to try to cross America, the Atlantic, and make its way back to Abu Dhabi, UAE, where the circumnavigation began in March 2015.Solar Impulse 2 grounded

The suspension will be a disappointment but the project has already met a number of its key objectives.

Pilot Andre Borschberg smashed aviation records when he steered Solar Impulse 2 from Nagoya to Kalaeloa at the beginning of the month.

Flying just on the power of the Sun, Andre Borschberg completed the 7,200km in 118 hours.

Not only did this set several new marks for manned solar aeroplanes, but it surpassed with ease the absolute aviation record for the longest duration solo flight in an un-refueled vehicle.

However, in achieving this mammoth feat, Andre Borschberg’s plane experienced damaging overheating in its lithium-ion battery system. Although the battery units performed as expected, they had too much insulation around them, making temperature management very difficult.

Engineers on the project have not been able to make the quick repairs that might allow Solar Impulse 2 to have a crack at completing the round-the-world journey this year.

The University of Hawaii and the US Department of Transportation have agreed to continue to host Solar Impulse 2 in a large hangar at Kalaeloa airport while the maintenance proceeds.

Solar Impulse 2 is making its second bid at a record-breaking flight across the Pacific Ocean.

The solar-powered plane took off from Nagoya Airfield in Japan at 18:03 GMT on June 28 and is scheduled to land in Hawaii in approximately 120 hours.

Solar Impulse 2 said on its website that pilot Andre Borschberg had passed the point of no return.

The team has spent nearly two months waiting for a clear weather window to cross the Pacific.

“Andre Borschberg has passed the point of no return and must now see this 5 days 5 nights flight through to the end,” the Solar Impulse team said on its website.

Andre Borschberg now no longer has the option to turn around and return to Japan, if the weather forecast changes.

The first attempt to fly over the Pacific Ocean was cut short after a change in the forecast forced an unscheduled landing.

Another attempt to take off on June 23 was cancelled at the last moment because of concerns about the conditions.

This time, the team will not be widely publicizing the take-off until the plane is several hours into its flight, as it may need to turn back if the forecast changes.

However, if the pilot succeeds, it will be the longest-duration solo flight in aviation history, as well as the furthest distance flown by a craft that is powered only by the Sun.

The Pacific crossing is the eighth leg of Solar Impulse’s journey around the world.

But this stage has proven to be the most difficult, and has been hit by weeks of delays.Solar Impulse 2 makes second Pacific crossing bid

Swiss pilot and Solar Impulse co-founder Andre Borschberg, who is flying the experimental single-seater craft, was initially supposed to begin his journey to Hawaii from Nanjing in China.

He spent weeks there, with his ground-support team, waiting for the right flying conditions to present themselves.

Andre Borschberg finally took off on May 31, but a deterioration in the forecast a few hours into the mission meant that he had to divert to Japan.

The rainy season in Nagoya has meant another long wait there – but after the false start last week, meteorologists are now confident they have found a weather window to make the five-day, five-night crossing to Hawaii.

A spokesperson said that the plane would be heading straight out across the Pacific.

The experimental craft – which has 17,000 solar cells – is powered only by the Sun.

Once over the ocean, if it fails to soak up enough rays to fully charge its batteries and make it through the night, the pilot could be forced to bail out.

Andre Borschberg has been trained for that eventuality.

He has a dinghy and enough supplies for several days while he waits for the team to identify a vessel to go pick him up.

But, of course, the team hopes none of this will be necessary.

Andre Borschberg’s will spend the duration of the flight strapped into his seat in a cockpit that is about the same size as a telephone booth.

He will only be allowed to take 20-minute cat-naps, but says he will use yoga and meditation to make his journey more comfortable.

If this flight succeeds, the plane will continue its journey around the world, with Bertrand Piccard taking the controls for the next Pacific crossing from Hawaii to the US mainland.

Solar Impulse 2 will then continue across North America, before attempting to fly over the Atlantic.

However, the build-up of delays could impact on the later stages. Ideally, the plane needs to cross the Atlantic before August, when the hurricane season reaches its peak.