After being gone for over two months and traveling 4,000 miles, the Solar Impulse made a safe return to Payerne, Switzerland where it first took off from on May 24th. Designed to encourage public awareness of energy and solar issues, the plane flew the eight-leg trip to Morocco and back with stops in Rabat and Ouarzazate in Morocco, Madrid, Spain, and Toulouse, France using only the power of the sun.
Pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg of Solar Impulse took turns at the cockpit throughout the journey, flying during the day and stopping on the ground overnight. However, even after a full day of flying the plane was brought into the hangars each night with a full charge.
“The goal of this airplane is not just to go from one point to another, but to fly as long as we wish, promote renewable energy and ambitious energy policies,” said Piccard during the intercontinental flight. “All of these have been so successful.”
If we can someday harness this technology for our big jets, air travel would cease to be the carbon-heavy industry it currently is. Let’s hope this first solar-powered round-trip flight is a sign of good things to come.