Solar plane completes epic round-the-world trip

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Solar plane completes epic round-the-world trip
The journey ended in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in the UAE, completing its epic journey to become the first sun-powered plane to circle the globe without a drop of fuel to promote renewable energy.


The plane touched down at 04:05 (0005 GMT) in the capital Abu Dhabi after a more than 48 hour-long flight from Cairo, the final leg in its journey which began on March 9th last year.

Cheers and clapping welcomed the plane as it arrived at Al-Bateen Executive Airport, where it first launched its world tour, an AFP journalist reported.

Swiss explorer and project director Bertrand Piccard was in the cockpit during the 2,763 kilometre (1,716 mile) flight from Cairo, crossing the Red Sea, the vast Saudi desert and flying over the Gulf.

He tweeted his arrival on Tuesday morning:

To celebrate the end of the epic trip some of the team staged an impromptu fondue meal, Solar Impulse tweeted.

Swiss Environment and Transport Minister Doris Leuthard was there to meet Piccard on his arrival. 

"This is a great day for Switzerland, for our business location and our innovation," she told the crowd, in comments reported by the Blick tabloid.

Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann also sent his congratulations in a Tweet.

And Piccard thanked Switzerland for its support in a Tweet.

The flight capped a remarkable 42,000-kilometre journey across four continents, two oceans and three seas.

It took off from Cairo on the final leg early on Sunday, having previously crossed Asia, North America, Europe and North Africa.

 "The future is clean, the future is you, the future is now, let's take it further," said Piccard as he disembarked.

Hours before landing, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed praise in a live-streamed conversation with Piccard.

"My deepest admiration and respect for your courage," he said.

"This is a historic day, not only for you but for humanity."



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