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First Ever Solar-Powered Intercontinental Roundtrip Flight Completed

On July 24, Bertrand Piccard landed the Solar Impulse, the world’s first solar-powered airplane, in Payerne, Switzerland, having traveled some 6,000 km during the roundtrip between Europe and Africa.

The journey between Switzerland and Morocco, which began on May 24, consisted of eight flights—from Payerne to Ouarzazate and back—with Piccard and André Borschberg taking turns in the single-seater cockpit. The most challenging leg was from Rabat to Ouarzazate, just beyond the Atlas Mountains, a region rife in turbulence and strong winds. On the return from Rabat to Madrid, Piccard found himself actually flying “backwards,” having encountered headwinds greater than his airspeed.

Piccard and Borschberg carried Explorers Club Flag #50 for their Crossing Frontiers expedition, which reaffirmed the reliability of the technologies used to construct the plane and the efficiency of its energy consumption. Originally built only to prove the possibility of flying day and night solely on solar power, the HB-SIA prototype, which has the wingspan of an Airbus A340 and is the weight of an average car, is now in the process of collecting a number of distance world records for solar aircraft, being verified by the International Air Sports Federation (FAI) in straight distance, free distance, and distance along a course. For more information, visit http://www.solarimpulse.com.

Published by : cyatsuk

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Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste