Solar-powered plane sets to complete its journey around the world

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Solar Impulse 2
A photo of the Solar Impulse 2 from André Borschberg Twitter account

The Solar Impulse 2, a revolutionary aircraft that solely runs on solar energy, prepares to complete its final flight in its round-the-world trip as it sets to land in Abu Dhabi, UAE on July 19.

Manned by Swiss pilots, André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, the project is an ambitious yet optimistic take on sun-powered innovations that pushes the limits of solar technology. The journey began on March 9 last year and the Solar Impulse 2 already completed 16 touch downs around the world in countries like India, Japan, China, and the United States.

Now, their mission is almost reaching its end as they get ready for the final leg of their journey from Egypt to where it all started – Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates. This feat will complete the plane’s circumnavigation around the globe, a first in history.

The arrival of this single-seater plane is set at sunrise (UAE local time) on Tuesday, July 19, after an expected 40-hour flight from Seville, Spain. The schedule, of course, will depend on the weather and if it would indeed cause a problem, it might lead to a 24-hour long delay.

However, as amazing as it sounds, the mission was not an easy one. In one instance, they had to stay in Hawaii for nine months for repairs after the plane’s batteries overheated.

Piccard will do the final leg to Abu Dhabi, which will land in the evening US time.  In a tweet, he admitted that, “All partners of Solar Impulse knew it would be a difficult challenge, but they wanted to try and make it possible.”

Although both pilots acknowledged that they do not expect solar power to lead the future of aviation, they emphasized that the main purpose of their mission is to showcase what Solar Impulse 2 can do.