Solar plane to leave Switzerland ahead of round-the world trip
The air carrier transporting Solar Impulse 2 is due to leave early Tuesday for Abu Dhabi.
A sun-powered plane was loaded onto a cargo carrier in Switzerland late Monday heading for the Middle East from where it will attempt a revolutionary round-the-world trip.
The air carrier transporting Solar Impulse 2 is due to leave early Tuesday for Abu Dhabi, from where the long-winged plane will begin its record-making bid in March with the aim of completing the trip by July.
It is the successor of Solar Impulse, a pioneering craft which notched up a 26-hour flight in 2010, proving its ability to store enough power in lithium batteries during the day to keep flying at night.
The forerunner was put through its paces in Europe, crossed the Mediterranean to reach Morocco and traversed the United States in 2013 without using a drop of fossil fuel.
The masterminds of the project are Bertrand Piccard, the scion of a dynasty of Swiss scientists-cum-adventurers, and Andre Borschberg, a former Swiss air force pilot.
"I am moved, because this is really a magical moment, an important moment," said Borschberg. "We've been working on this for 12 years."
Piccard, who made history in 1999 by becoming the first person to fly around the world in a hot-air balloon, said the main objective was to prove that clean energy could "achieve incredible things".
"What we need to do now is convince the political and the industrial world that this is the direction we need to go in," Piccard said.
The goal with Solar Impulse 2 is to fly non-stop for more than 120 hours five days and five nights enabling it to cross the Pacific and Atlantic legs of its global mission.