The world watched with bated breath as André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard respectively made their way from Switzerland to Spain and finally to Morocco in the sun-powered Solar Impulse. The first solar-powered transcontinental flight has come to a close but the journey towards a more sustainable method of global travel is only just beginning.
As Piccard, who founded the Solar Impulse project, reached the highest point of his flight over Morocco, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced that he is this year’s recipient of the Champions of the Earth Laureate Award. Hit the jump to view a few images that chronicle the journey that began on May 24th, 2012 in Payerne Switzerland and ended last night at 23h30 in Rabat, Morocco, and watch a video of the plane’s first African landing.
This youtube video of Piccard’s historic touchdown in Rabat, Morocco was posted by alismatsmat.
The pilots prepare for the first section of the journey – from Payerne, Switzerland to Madrid, Spain. Bad weather nearly derailed plans, but then desisted, and the solar-powered plane took off shortly after it was scheduled to leave.
The pilots embrace after the plane lands in Madrid, where it underwent a technical review before Piccard took over for the second leg of the journey.
Long before the crack of dawn on June 5, 2012, the pilots prepared for the second leg of the journey. Once again inclement weather caused some alarm, but the plane took off on time. This is Piccard leaving Madrid.
An ironic indicator of how important this solar-powered flight is to the future of humanity, the Solar Impulse flies over Morocco, lit up like a Christmas tree shortly before midnight, June 5th, 2012.
An enormous crowd welcomes the pilots as the 19th hour flight from Madrid and over the Gibraltar Strait ends in Rabat at 23h30.
For the first time in history, a solar-powered plane has traveled 2,500 km without a single drop of fuel. While the Solar Impulse is only fit for one pilot, let’s not forget that today’s oil-guzzling planes have grown out of a twig of an airplane first flown in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. The Wright Brothers would be proud (and probably more than a little jealous that they didn’t come up with this themselves!)
More on this Historic Solar-Powered Transcontinental Flight:
Morocco to Welcome Solar-Impulse Pilots Tonight!
Track the Sun-Powered Solar Impulse as it Flies to Spain and Morocco
World’s Longest Solar-Powered Flight to Land in Morocco
All images courtesy of Solar Impulse