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Solar aircraft returns from cross-US flight

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Solar Impulse has returned home. Photo: Solar Impulse/Jean Revillard
10:48 CEST+02:00
Crowds of spectators welcomed the solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse on Monday as it returned to Switzerland onboard a jumbo jet following its successful trans-American flight.

A Boeing 747 jumbo carrying the prototype aircraft of aviation pioneer Bertrand Piccard landed at Dübendorf airfield in the canton of Zurich just after 7am, the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper reported.

The cargo plane had flown from New York ­– the final stop in the cross-United States flight – via Luxembourg.

Fire engines and rescue crews were on standby as the plane carrying the dismantled solar aircraft came in to land.

It is very unusual for such a large aircraft to land on the Dübendorf airstrip.

Pilots Piccard and André  Borschberg completed the historic flight from San Francisco in early July.

The world’s first solar aircraft able to fly both day and night powered solely by the sun flew 5,650 kilometres across the United States.

The journey took it from San Francisco to New York via Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Washington over a period of two months.

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During the flight Solar Impulse set a world distance record in the solar aircraft category.

The aircraft, developed in western Switzerland, is just under 22 metres long, has a wing span of 63 metres and weighs 1,600 kilos.

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