Solar Impulse 2, took to the skies earlier today (March 9) embarking on the historic first leg of a planned journey around the world.
This unique aircraft, which can fly perpetually day and night without using any fuel, took off from Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi shortly after 7:10 a.m local time.
Solar Impulse 2 will now fly roughly 250 miles (400 kilometers) in 12 hours to reach Oman, then make stops in India, Myanmar and China, before crossing the Pacific Ocean.
The plane is then expected to fly across the continental United States, touching down in three cities along the way. After journeying across the Atlantic Ocean, the plane will make a stopover either in southern Europe or North Africa before returning to Abu Dhabi.
If successful, Solar Impulse 2 will become the first solar-powered aircraft to circumnavigate the globe. Swiss pilots and Solar Impulse co-founders André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard have said the round-the-world flight will likely end in late July or early August.
“We are very ambitious in our goal, but modest given the magnitude of the challenge,” Borschberg and Piccard said in a statement. “This is an attempt, and only time will tell if we can overcome the numerous weather, technical, human and administrative issues.”
Borschberg was at the controls when Solar Impulse 2 took off from Abu Dhabi, but he and Piccard will alternate flying the solar-powered plane on each leg of the round-the-world trip.
The plane is powered entirely by solar panels and onboard batteries, which charge during the day to enable the ultra-lightweight plane to continue its journey throughout the night.
The round-the-world flight is designed to demonstrate the possibilities of “green” technology / sustainable energy and each leg of the round-the-world journey will be broadcast live on the Solar Impulse 2 website.
Go Solar Impulse 2!!