The solar-powered Solar Impulse aircraft has landed in Madrid on its way to Morocco. The aircraft, a project by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, completed the first leg of its flight to Morocco last Friday. The stopover was scheduled purely for technical reasons and to change pilots.

The solar aircraft left Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland, flew over the Massif Central towards Toulose in the south of France, flew over the Pyrenees mountains at an altitude of 7,833 meters (4.84 miles) and finally arrived in Spain. The flight took 17 hours 30 minutes and 50 seconds.

“The flight went very well and thanks to the team of meteorologists, everything went according to the plan. It was extraordinary,” said André Borschberg “It was incredible to fly alongside the barrier of clouds during most of the flight and not need to hesitate to fly above them. This confirms our confidence in the capacity of solar energy even further.”

Piccard and Borshberg were invited by the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy and King Mohammed VI to fly to their country, which is due to become home to the largest thermo-solar power plant in the world in the Ouarzazate region, with a capacity of 160 MW. Morocoo plans on building five solar parks with a total capacity of 2,000 megawatts by 2020.

Piccard, who will pilot the Solar Impulse aircraft on the second leg of its first intercontinental flight, said on his Twitter yesterday that he’ll be taking off from Madrid when weather conditions are good. The approximately 800 km flight is due to fly over the Gibraltar strait and Mediterranean, landing in Rabat-Salé airport some 20 hours later. As we reported in March, the overall journey will be Solar Impulse's farthest to date.

Source: Solar Impulse