We would give anything to be in Rabat as the world’s first solar-powered transcontinental flight comes to an end at roughly 11pm local time. Despite the relatively late hour (chosen to avoid dense air traffic), delegates from the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) and others will be at the airport to congratulate pilot Bertrand Piccard on completing this historic milestone.
André Borschberg flew for the first half of the Solar Impulse’s 2,500 km journey, from Switzerland to Spain, which proved that it is possible to fly a plane night and day without a drop of fuel, but Piccard will cross the Mediterranean Sea – the first time a solar-powered airplane has completed such a feat.
Heavy wind early Tuesday morning (local time in Madrid) came close to derailing the plane’s schedule. “It wouldn’t have been the first time, but the fear of deceiving the Moroccans was a thought filling our minds,” André reported from the ground.
“It was decided that the preparations should proceed as planned with the belief that the conditions would improve in the midst of it all. Thankfully, the weather granted our wish and changed course, opening the necessary window for take-off.”
“It is the first time that I experience all this from ground instead of the sky,” said André “and I must admit I’m pleased to live the flight from this perspective. It’s extraordinary to feel the excitement and emotions with the team from the ground; it gives a human feel to the mission.”
Once the pilots have visited the construction site of Morocco’s first solar-thermal plant in Ouarzazate and their trip to Morocco is complete, they will begin to prepare for the next step of their remarkable journey: to fly around the world relying only on the sun for power.
image via Jean Revillard/Rezo.ch (taken from the Solar Impulse Facebook page)
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