The Swiss solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 took off on Sunday for what is the final leg of its historic round-the-world journey. Pilot Bertrand Piccard is expected to land in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
10 days after pilot André Borschberg crossed the Mediterranean Sea in the Solar Impulse 2 and landed in Cairo, Bertrand Piccard, the initiator of the Solar Impulse project, has finally taken off on the final leg of this record-breaking solar journey.
After a flight of around two days and two nights, Piccard will be welcomed on the ground by Borschberg, who flew from Abu Dhabi in March 2015 on the first leg of the solar flight.
“Today we are living the final moments of a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, contributing to setting a new milestone in aviation – one centred not on speed or height but instead on exploring new clean and efficient technologies that can almost make it possible for the plane to fly with unlimited endurance, a week, a month; something that was never done,” said Borschberg as Piccard departed from Cairo.
Borschberg and Piccard took turns piloting Si2 around the world. The last leg could prove the most challenging of the previous 16 due to the high temperatures in the Middle East. Thermals and turbulence could force Piccard to use the oxygen mask for much of the flight.
Piccard was emotional taking off from Egypt in Si2 as it was there that he landed in 1999 after accomplishing the first non-stop round-the-world balloon flight. “It’s precisely here that started my dream of making another circumnavigation, but this time without fuel, only on solar power.”
But circumnavigating the globe with zero emissions doesn’t mark the end their dream. “Unfortunately there are still so many people we have to motivate before having a world running on the same clean technologies,” said Piccard.
According to a Solar Impulse statement, Piccard, Borschberg and the rest of their team and partners intend to continue Solar Impulse’s mission of advocating that concrete energy efficient solutions can solve many of the challenges facing global society today.
Image credt: Solar Impulse