Solar Impulse Just Completed Its Momentous Flight Around the World

Solar Impulse 2 becomes the first fuel-free plane to fly around the world. WIRED reports:

Touching down in Abu Dhabi in the early hours of the morning, Solar Impulse 2 entered the record books as the first fuel-free flight to circumnavigate the globe. While not the speediest of flights (the first leg of the 22,000 mile flight took off from the same city in March 2015), the plane itself is a marvel to behold, WIRED reports:

“Solar Impulse 2 is a seriously nifty machine. Its 236-foot wingspan makes it wider than a Boeing 747, but the thing is just 5,000 pounds. 17,000 rigid, photovoltaic panels charge four uber-efficient batteries, which make up nearly a third of the weight. Its four 17.4-horsepower motors definitely aren’t the fastest: The plane tops out around 90 mph, and traveled at an average of 38 mph across the Pacific.”

Neither bad weather nor fried batteries nor health troubles could derail the trip, which was broken into 17 smaller trips. Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard shared his wonder at the possibilities for this technology: “When I’m flying a solar airplane that can fly forever, I have the impression to be already 30 years in the future,” Piccard told WIRED in April. “And when I land, I have the impression to go back in the past. I say, ‘Wow, they are still using combustion engines!’”

Watch the final landing of leg 17 of the Solar Impulse’s flight:

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