Solar plane lands in Egypt in penultimate stop of world tour

CAIRO (AFP) – The Solar Impulse 2 landed in Cairo on Wednesday for the penultimate stop in the solar-powered airplane’s world tour, two days after setting off from Spain.

The experimental airplane will continue from Cairo to Abu Dhabi, where it started its marathon journey in March last year, and had finished the first solo transatlantic flight powered solely by sunlight to land in Spain last month.

After setting off from Seville on Monday morning, the airplane passed through Algerian, Tunisian, Italian and Greek airspace, and flew over the Giza Pyramids before touching down at Cairo airport at around 7:10 am (0510 GMT).

Its support crew encouraged as the airplane, no heavier than a car but with the wingspan of a Boeing 747, landed, and trailed on cycles after it.

“It was amazing, everything functioned nicely,” aviator Andre Borschberg told the control tower, as a live stream on Solar Impulse 2’s Facebook page was air from the cockpit.

He appeared from the cockpit and embraced Bertrand Piccard, with whom he’s taken turns flying the airplane all over the world.

Solar Impulse is being flown on its 35,400-kilometre (22,000 mile) trip round the world in stages, with Piccard and his Swiss compatriot Borschberg switching at the controls of the single-seat plane.

Picard, who’d arrived early to meet the airplane, told reporters that flying Solar Impulse 2 was “magic.”

“It’s a new age for energy,” he said.

“I love to fly this airplane because when you’re in the air for several days you’ve got the feeling to be in a picture of science fiction,” he said.

“You examine the sun, you examine your motors, they turn for days and for days, no fuel. And you believe that’s a miracle. That’s magic. It’s truly the reality of today. This is what we can do with these new technologies.”

He said the aviator takes 20 minute naps during the long flights, as the airplane inches across the skies at about 48 kilometres (36 miles) an hour.

It’d finished its flight in 71 hours from New York to Seville, flying through the nighttime with the energy stored in its cells.! photovoltaic 17,000

Piccard and Borschberg have said they need to increase awareness of technologies and sustainable energy sources with their job.

Picard said a backup team of engineers and meteorologists supplied guidance to the pilot and had empowered him to pass through clouds as if “through the eye of a needle” when he was at the controls.