‘The future is now’: Historic solar flight marks first round-the-world journey
Aya Batrawy, The Associated Press | July 26, 2016 | Last Updated: Jul 26 3:28 PM ET
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — The world’s first round-the-world flight to be powered solely by the sun’s energy made history on Tuesday as it landed in Abu Dhabi, where it first took off on an epic 40,000-kilometre journey that began more than a year ago.
Since its March 2015 take off, the Swiss-engineered Solar Impulse 2 has made 16 stops across the world without using a drop of fuel to demonstrate that using the plane’s clean technologies on the ground can halve the world’s energy consumption, save natural resources and improve quality of life.
After landing the plane, pilot Bertrand Piccard was greeted outside the cockpit by his Solar Impulse partner and fellow pilot Andre Borschberg. They hugged and pumped their fists in the air.
“The future is clean. The future is you. The future is now. Let’s take it further,” Piccard said, speaking through a microphone to applause and cheers from a crowd that included Prince Albert of Monaco.
The aircraft is uniquely powered by 17,248 solar cells that transfer energy to four electrical motors that power the plane’s propellers. It runs on four lithium polymer batteries at night. The plane’s wingspan stretches 72 metres to catch the sun’s energy.