Excitement engulfed Egypt as the world’s first solar-powered plane, the Solar Impulse touched down in Cairo today. The aircraft is just about the weight of a standard car, but with the wingspan of a Boeing 747, and runs only on solar power.
Solar Impulse 2, a spindly single-seat plane, flew over the Pyramids to make a smooth landing at Cairo airport at about 7:10 a.m. (0510 GMT), ending a flight leg that lasted 48 hours and 50 minutes.
The plane, which began its journey in Abu Dhabi in March 2015 and is due to end it there, has been piloted in turns by Swiss aviators Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard in a campaign to build support for clean energy technologies.
“Thanks to clean technologies, today you can reconcile economy and ecology … this was my goal when I started the project,” Piccard told Reuters.
Solar Impulse flies without a drop of fuel, its four engines powered solely by energy collected from more than 17,000 solar cells in its wings. Surplus power is stored in batteries during the day to keep the plane aloft on long-distance flights.