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Solar Impulse 2 lands in California after Pacific flight

(CNN)An experimental plane flying around the world without a single drop of fuel landed in California after a two-and-a-half day flight across the Pacific.

Piloted by Swiss explorer and psychiatrist Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse 2 touched down in Mountain View just before midnight (3 a.m. ET).

"It's a new era. It's not science fiction. It's today," Piccard told CNN from California after his successful voyage. "It exists and clean technologies can do the impossible."

Images of the elegant solar aircraft, which has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 but only weighs about as much as an SUV, flying over the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco Bay mark a significant achievement. The team has seen the project beset with problems and setbacks during its pioneering airborne circumnavigation.

"I'm very happy that everything works extremely well and the airplane is functioning as it should," Piccard's business partner and the plane's other pilot, Swiss engineer Andre Borschberg, told CNN by phone from California just ahead of the successful, on-schedule landing.

"It's a demonstration that the tech is reliable."

The plane took off from Hawaii on Thursday, resuming a journey that had stalled on the island of Oahu for almost 10 months.

27 photos: Solar Impulse 2's round-the-world journey

The Solar Impulse 2 is rolled out of its inflatable mobile hangar before leaving Myanmar for Chongqing on Monday, March 30.

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27 photos: Solar Impulse 2's round-the-world journey

The plane is prepared on a tarmac in Ahmedabad, India, on Wednesday, March 18.

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27 photos: Solar Impulse 2's round-the-world journey

The Solar Impulse 2 flies over Muscat, Oman, after taking off on Tuesday, March 10.

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27 photos: Solar Impulse 2's round-the-world journey

The plane takes off from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Monday, March 9. Its flight to Oman was the first leg of its round-the-world flight.

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27 photos: Solar Impulse 2's round-the-world journey

The plane is the brainchild of Swiss pilots Piccard, right, and Borschberg.

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27 photos: Solar Impulse 2's round-the-world journey

The top surface of the Solar Impulse 2's wings is covered with 17,000 solar cells that supply four electric motors with renewable energy. Its batteries can store enough solar daytime energy to keep the plane moving throughout the night.

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27 photos: Solar Impulse 2's round-the-world journey

The plane's wings stretch for a massive 72 meters (236 feet).

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27 photos: Solar Impulse 2's round-the-world journey

The plane's cockpit has been designed to ensure that a pilot can live there for a week.

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27 photos: Solar Impulse 2's round-the-world journey

Solar Impulse 2 is the upgraded version of a prototype, pictured here, that made history in 2010 by becoming the first solar aircraft capable of flying overnight.

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27 photos: Solar Impulse 2's round-the-world journey

Solar Impulse 1, pictured here over Lake Geneva, broke several records, including the world's first fully solar-powered intercontinental flight in 2012.

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27 photos: Solar Impulse 2's round-the-world journey

Borschberg is an engineer who studied management science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The aviation enthusiast has been involved in several startups and technology projects over the years.

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27 photos: Solar Impulse 2's round-the-world journey

Piccard, who is also a doctor and a psychiatrist, is the first man to fly around the world non-stop in a balloon. He hails from a family of scientists and explorers.

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27 photos: Solar Impulse 2's round-the-world journey

Piccard's grandfather, Auguste Piccard, was a physics professor who helped pave the way for high-altitude navigation by inventing the pressurized cabin. He was also the first person to reach the stratosphere in a balloon.

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27 photos: Solar Impulse 2's round-the-world journey

Piccard's father, Jacques, was the first man to dive to the bottom of the Marianas Trench -- the deepest point of the world's oceans.

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27 photos: Solar Impulse 2's round-the-world journey

Solar Impulse 2 flies over the Golden Gate Bridge as part of a fly-by of the San Francisco Bay after flying for two and half days from Hawaii.

Source : http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/24/travel/solar-impulse-2-plane-california/index.html

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