Solar Impulse 2 returned to Switzerland on Tuesday, a few months after successfully completing its historic round-the-world journey. The future of the solar-powered airplane is still uncertain.
Solar Impulse 2 landed on Swiss soil on Tuesday. As the Tages Anzeiger newspaper reported, the excited spectators celebrating its return home included the two pilots and project initiators, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg.
“Two years ago we were full of doubt, questions and fear,” said Piccard. “And today we are full of emotions that our baby is back. It was our home, our tool, our dream for so long.”
The irony wasn’t lost on anyone that an airplane capable of flying around the world day and night without using a single drop of fuel arrived back in Switzerland in the belly of a cargo jumbo jet. The Solar Impulse team teamed up myclimate to offset the flight emissions. “This money will be used to install solar cells on top of a school building in Africa,” said Piccard.
As Borschberg pointed out, Solar Impulse 2 in theory has a number of flight hours ahead of it. “It was built for 2,000 flight hours and has only been 700 hours in the air.” But no flights are currently planned for the solar-powered airplane; keeping it flight-ready would also be very expensive.
It’s possible that Solar Impulse 2 will be exhibited in a museum in the near future, perhaps in the US.
“If we can display our airplane abroad, it is also better for Switzerland,” said Piccard.
But even if the airplane does end up permanently grounded sooner rather than later, the journey to find solutions against climate change is far from over.
Image credit: © Solar Impulse | Revillard | Rezo.ch