Solar Impulse, the experimental sun-powered airplane that departed from Swiss two weeks ago, has just arrived in Morocco, successfully completing the first intercontinental flight in a solar powered-plane. Piloted by Andre Borschberg, Solar Impulse holds now the record for the longest flight by a manned solar-powered airplane after staying aloft for 26 hours, 10 minutes and 19 seconds above Switzerland, and also a record for altitude by flying at 9,235 metres.
Solar Impulse took off from Madrid at 3:22 am on Tuesday and landed at Rabat’s International airport after a 19-hour flight. Although not thought to be commercial – with an average of flying speed of 44mph, is ten times slower than a typical plane – the truth is that Solar Impulse aircraft has demonstrated solar energy is just beginning to show the world how much can be done just thanks to the sunlight. Shortly befote the landing, the Swiss pilot and co-founder of the project, Andre Borschberg, said the aircraft has proved its sustainability. “The aircraft can now fly day and night. It’s quite a show … It’s a technology we can trust“.
“The question is not to use solar power for normal aeroplanes,” explained Piccard, 54-year-old Swiss psychiatrist, balloonist and second pilot of Solar Impulse. “The question is more to demonstrate that we can achieve incredible goals, almost impossible goals, with new technologies, without fuel, just with solar energy, and raise awareness that if we can do it in the air, of course everybody can do it on the ground.“
The Solar Impulse project began in 2003 with a 10-year budget of 90 million euros ($128 million). This is the last rehearsal before Solar Impulse’s round-the-world flight, planned for 2014.
Watch the official reception in Rabat here or in their website.