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Solar Impulse completes its transcontinental flight


June 6, 2012

Pilot Bertrand Piccard, emerging from the Solar Impulse in Morocco (Photo: Solar Impulse)

Pilot Bertrand Piccard, emerging from the Solar Impulse in Morocco (Photo: Solar Impulse)

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At approximately 11:30 this Tuesday night, the Solar Impulse solar-powered aircraft completed its first-ever transcontinental flight, arriving at Morocco’s Rabat-Salé international airport 19 hours and 8 minutes after taking off from a scheduled stop-over in Madrid. Prior to that, on the first leg of its 2012 Crossing Frontiers mission, it took 17 hours, 30 minutes and 50 seconds to fly to Madrid from its starting point at the Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland.

On this second and final leg of its flight, the aircraft maintained an average ground speed of 51.8 km/h (32.19 mph), traveling a total distance of 830 kilometers (516 miles), crossing the Strait of Gibraltar at an altitude of 8,229 meters (27,000 feet). Upon landing, its batteries still had a charge of 95 percent. “After almost 20 hours of flight we landed with a full set of batteries, said pilot Bertrand Piccard, who took over from mission partner André Borschberg in Madrid. “This is extraordinary as it represents an increase in confidence in new technologies.”

The Solar Impulse landing in Morocco (Photo: Solar Impulse)

The pair still plan on flying the Solar Impulse around the world in 2014.

The Crossing Frontiers mission is the longest, farthest flight yet achieved by the aircraft. Last night’s historic landing can be seen in the video below.

Source: Solar Impulse

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Amazing! Kudos to Piccard and his team for a another airplane "first".

Matt Rings

Silently and powerfully, the great people of this world lead the way in the evolution of this otherwise useless species called human beings. Loud applause and gratitude to all of you true pioneers.


Wouldn't that be intercontinental. Transcontinental sound more like San Francisco to New York, or Alexandria to Cape Town.

Spain is part of Europe whereas Morocco is part of Africa so it is a cross between continents. I wonder what the closest point between two continents might be. Obviously N. America and Russia are only twenty miles or so apart near the Artic circle. Anyone know a a closer hop? Jim Sadler
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