Two pilots will circumnavigate the globe without using any conventional fuel
The world’s first round-the-world trip on a solar-powered plane took off on Monday, 9 March 2015 from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The flight will fly up to Muscat in Oman, UAE.
Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will pursue a five-month journey, spanning 21,748 miles across several continents and two oceans, while using only sunlight to power their aircraft.
The aircraft, called Solar Impulse-2, is lightweight and weigh only weighing only 4,600 lbs. — combined with its 236-ft. wingspan lined with 17,000 solar cells, makes it the first solar-powered aircraft capable of flying during both day and night.
“I am confident we have a very special airplane, and it will have to be to get us across the big oceans,” Borschberg told the BBC.
The pilots have undergone rigorous preparation drills, and will forgo all sleep longer than 20 minutes while airborne, practicing yoga and self-hypnosis to cope with their airborne ordeal. (Some stints will involve flying continuously for five days.) Rest stops will be spent pursuing their clean technology campaign.
“I had this dream 16 years ago of flying around the world without fuel, just on solar power,” said Piccard. “Now, we’re about to do it.”