Solar Impulse completes its transcontinental flight
By Ben Coxworth
June 6, 2012
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 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