Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Solar Impulse lands in Cairo, final flight to Abu Dhabi

Narada Desk | July 14, 2016 5:17 pm Print
Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard have been manning the Solar Impulse project for a decade.

The solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse 2 flew over the pyramids and Sphinx at Giza before landing in Cairo, completing its 16th and final stop on Wednesday morning, reported the BBC.

From here, it will be flying back to Abu Dhabi depending on the suitability of weather conditions.

It has completed its journey from the Spanish city of Sevsille in 48 hours. Its final stop is Abu Dhabi where it will complete its zero-fossil fuel flight around the globe that had begun in March 2015.

Egypt’s ministers of aviation energy Sherif Fathy and the UAE Ambassador to Egypt, Juma Mubarak Al Junaibi received the plane’s arrival.

Solar Impulse 2 is a project of two pilots– Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard. They have been manning the plane for a decade. Borschberg did the Seville-Cairo trip. After its completion, he tweeted saying: “The final approach to Cairo was a bit tough but I made it.” Piccard will take Solar Impulse back into the United Arab Emirates in the next few days, if all goes well.

According to mission managers, the plane’s battery levels had gone below 30% towards the end of the trip.

Before the flight from Seville International Airport, Borschberg was emotional about his last journey in the plane.

“It’s meaningful obviously because it’s my last flight in this round-the-world epic. I’ve started to think about it. I’m happy that we get close to the end but also prudent knowing that it is not done yet. I have to stay really focussed,” said Borschberg.

The plane’s landing in Egypt was significant for Piccard because the initial idea of flying with zero fuel had occurred to him here 17 years ago when he landed Breitling Orbiter 3 – the first balloon to make a non-stop, round-the-world flight.

“We arrived there with so little fuel left – you know, the propane gas you have to burn in your envelope to stay airborne. I landed there with less than 1% of our reserves, and I was really scared to fall short of gas before the end. And that’s when I said I want to fly around the world again but with no fuel,” Piccard said.

The penultimate leg of the flight crossed seven countries, negotiating some very busy air routes and taking account of a number of military operations in the Mediterranean and North Africa region.