And They’re Off: The Solar Impulse Adventure Begins

The Solar Impulse round-the-world journey began in style and is already pushing the limits of solar-powered flight. On Mar. 10 the Solar Impulse 2 aircraft, piloted by Bertrand Piccard, completed the second of twelve journeys and landed in Ahmedabad, India.

The flight, which started in Oman, covered  1,468 kilometers. According to the BBC, that is a world record for longest distance traveled in a manned solar aircraft. And it’s only day three of the adventure.

It took a long time for the the aircraft to get across the Arabian Sea: over 15 hours. But Solar Impulse’s mission to fly around the world is a marathon, not a sprint.  And although the voyage officially started Monday, the team has about five months to make it back to where they started in Abu Dhabi.

The first leg of the journey was piloted by André Borschberg, project CEO and second of the two pilots. He and Piccard will be taking turns with each flight.

Up next for the Solar Impulse team is a flight to Varanasi, India. This flight will only cover 1,071 kilometers. As of Mar. 11, Solar Impulse has not announced which of the two pilots will be making this flight.  The departure date is also uncertain, but it will take about three days for the team to be ready to fly again.

By the very end of the journey, Solar Impulse will have flown over 35,000 kilometers and will have acquired about 500 flight hours.

You can track of the pilots, the aircraft, and their location with some live feeds on the Solar Impulse website.

For Piccard and Borschberg, setting records is nothing new.  Some may remember in 2013 when the same duo flew Solar Impulse 1, the predecessor to their current aircraft, across the United States. Piccard himself has a long history of combining man and machine to break records. Back in 1999, he set the record for the first non-stop round-the-world flight in a ballon.

If you haven’t seen Solar Impulse 2 in action, check out the video below.  The good stuff starts at the 1:03:30 mark.

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