I can’t believe I’m typing this: two pilots just completed a 24,584 mile-long trip around the world in a plane over the course of more than a year, without a single drop of fuel.
Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg flew the Solar Impulse 2 across Europe, North America and Asia over the past year; the final leg of their trip took them from Cairo to Abu Dhabi in two days and 37 minutes, signaling the end of an incredible journey that the Swiss duo undertook to prove that clean technologies can power our future energy needs on earth.
The Solar Impulse 2 has a wingspan of 72m – longer than that of a Boeing 747 – weighs 2.3 tons and can fly a maximum distance of 5,084 miles over 5-6 days at a top speed of 87 mph. For the most part, Piccard and Borschberg flew at about 30 mph, making their trip in a cramped spartan cockpit all the more difficult. For comparison, the 747 tops out at 613 mph.
Here’s a glorious time-lapse covering Solar Impulse’s trip around the world:
The pilots hope that their feat will encourage people, companies and governments to sit up and take notice of the possibilities that clean energy can open up.
Piccard told The Guardian:
I worked for 15 years to have [this] demonstration of the improvements of these technologies, so now I really want to leverage this demonstration and create a world council for clean technologies. That will allow all these experts and specialists to advise the governments and big corporations on which types of technology to use to profitably fight climate change and profitably protect the environment.