The sun-powered Solar Impulse 2 completed the ambitious round-the-world flight after the single-seat aircraft landed in Abu Dhabi Monday evening. The plane was piloted by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, who steered it safely from the Egyptian capital of Cairo to the UAE. Piccard was taking turns at the controls with fellow countryman Andre Borschberg.
Solar Impulse 2, which set out on March 9, 2015, from Abu Dhabi, has travelled across Asia and the Pacific to the U.S. purely on solar power. Last week, the plane completed its historic Atlantic crossing and landed in Seville in southern Spain.
“Bertrand Piccard made one last smooth landing, kissing the warm tarmac with his solar airplane after a 48 hour and 37 minute flight in Al Bateen Executive Airport, Abu Dhabi,” according to a blog post on the Solar Impulse website. “The solar airplane has now successfully made it full circle around the world, proving that clean technologies can really achieve the impossible.”
Piccard took off from Cairo at 7:28 p.m. EDT on Saturday and touched down in Abu Dhabi at 8:05 p.m. EDT on Monday. During his flight, Piccard exchanged ideas with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann. He also shared his achievement with Christiana Figueres, the former Executive Secretary of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Patricia Espinosa, the current Executive Secretary of UNFCCC.
— United Nations (@UN) July 25, 2016
Piccard and Borschberg covered four continents, three seas and two oceans during their 17-stage journey. The longest leg of the trip — an 5,545-mile flight from Nagoya in Japan to Hawaii in the U.S. — lasted nearly 118 hours, making Borschberg break the world record for longest uninterrupted solo flight, BBC reported.
Although the plane weighs no heavier than a car, it has the same wing span of a Boeing 747 aircraft. The plane, which has more than 17,000 solar cells built into its wings, runs on solar power during the day, but uses its battery-stored power at night.
“The future is clean. The future is you. The future is now. Let's take it further,” Piccard reportedly said after arriving at Abu Dhabi amid cheers and applause.