Monday, March 9, 2015


After the Solar Impulse prototype’s 8 world records, when it became the first solar airplane ever to fly through the night, between two continents and across the United States, it is time for Bertrand Piccard and AndrĂ© Borschberg to move on to the final phase of the adventure: the 2015 round-the-world flight.

Piccard & Borschberg with Solar Impulse 2

Solar Impulse took off from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates this morning for the first leg of its round-the-world flight, landing at Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman. AndrĂ© Borschberg flew the zero-fuel airplane for 13 hours and 1 minute, reaching a maximum altitude of 5,791 m (19,000 ft).

Solar Impulse 2 over Abu Dhabi

The ability to fly around the world without using a drop of fossil fuel is a huge step forward; roll the plane out of it's hangar, let it charge in the sun, and you're ready to fly for at least 25 hours... enough to make it through the night. The implications are enormous. It means you could put an aircraft like the Helios UAV, being developed by NASA, at high altitude for extended periods of time to replace communications links if a satellite is out of service... or for surveillance of borders (or whatever you wanted to keep an eye on).

You can follow this pioneering flight at the Solar Impulse website.