Solar-Powered Plane Finishes Round-the-World Flight

The Solar Impulse 2 just circumnavigated the globe sans fuel

April 22, 2016 9:00 am

Update:  26 July 2016

When we last posted about the Solar Impulse 2, Democrats were split on Hillary and Bernie and Donald Trump was whipping crowds into riotous frenzies  … so, not a lot of progress on those fronts.

Fortunately, the same cannot be said for the Solar Impulse.

After taking off from Abu Dhabi on March 9th in 2015, the zero-emission electric and solar airplane finally made it full circle and touched down at its original departure point today.

The tale of the tape on the world’s first-ever solar flight around the world reads thusly: two pilots (Bertrand Piccard and André Borschber), eight world records, 17 journey legs and 21 days worth of flight.

“Emotions, tears, relief, exhilaration is what we are all feeling right now after completing the first round-the-world solar flight in history,” said the flight team. “But as always, there are new adventures to come. And for the Solar Impulse team, there definitely will be a new dream seeking to be achieved.”

After being delayed for months due to repairs, a solar-powered plane is back in the air and headed for the West Coast.

Luckily, it’s not going anywhere near Seattle.

The two pilots of the Solar Impulse 2 are attempting to take the 72-foot, carbon fiber aircraft around the world using the sun as their only fuel source. The trip, which started in Abu Dhabi last March, hit a snag when the experimental plane landed in Hawaii last July and was delayed for nine months so its batteries, stabilization and cooling systems could be repaired.

The lengthy delay came to an end on Thursday morning when the plane took off and began its journey to Mountain View, California, a continuous flight that was expected to take about 62 hours to complete.

The Impulse 2 has a wingspan that’s larger than a Boeing 747 (236 feet), but doesn’t weigh much more than a mid-size station wagon, a combination that leaves the plane with a max speed of just 34 MPH (or slightly faster than Usain Bolt at full bore).

If the plane completes its journey and makes it all the way back to Abu Dhabi, the Impulse 2 team hopes people all over the globe will start to take the potential of clean energy technology more seriously.

You can check in on their progress here.

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