As the Solar Impulse landed in Morocco on Tuesday night, it made it history as the first solar plane to complete an intercontinental flight. The plane, powered solely by the sun, crossed the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain.
Solar Impulse founder Bertrand Piccard landed the plane at Rabat Sale Airport after flying over the Strait of Gibraltar from Madrid. Solar Impulse recorded a flight time of 19 hours 8 minutes and flew 830 km, reaching an altitude of 27,000 ft and averaging 70 km per hour.
Prior to takeoff Piccard said "I’ve been dreaming about it for 10 years. Because ten years ago I was in the US talking to Paul Macready, the pioneer of solar flying, and Fred Militky, a specialist, about fuel cells and solar energy, and trying to imagine how we could achieve an intercontinental flight using solar power – and here we are" Euro News reported.
Landing in Rabat Piccard spoke of the flight, saying "For one hour I had the full moon on my right and I had the sunrise on my left and that was absolutely gorgeous. I had all the colors of the rainbow in the sky and also on the ground." (Naharnet)
Piccard stressed that not a drop of fuel had been used, just solar power, noting the strong Spanish sun had kept the batteries charged.
In June 2011 the Solar Impulse made the first solar international flight, crossing from Paris to Brussels. Its next challenge is to fly around the world.