A Plane Just Flew Around The World Without A Single Drop Of Fuel
More than a year after it first took to the skies, a solar-powered plane has completed an epic around-the-world journey without burning a single drop of fuel.
The revolutionary, single-seat Solar Impulse 2 touched down Tuesday morning in Abu Dhabi, at the same airport where it embarked back in March 2015. Over the last 16 months, Swiss aviator Bertrand Piccard and fellow pilot Andre Borschberg took turns flying the aircraft nearly 27,000 miles, tallying eight world records along the way.
The aircraft is made mostly of carbon fiber and is powered by 17,248 solar cells attached to its wings, which recharge four lithium polymer batteries. Despite its 236-foot wingspan, it weighs roughly the same as a Ford Explorer ― nearly 200 times lighter than a Boeing 747. It reaches a top speed of 90 mph.
Solar Impulse 2’s worldwide tour included stops in India, China, Japan, Italy, Spain and several U.S. locations, including Hawaii, San Francisco, Phoenix, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and New York. The last of the trip’s 17 legs took the aircraft from Cairo to Abu Dhabi, a total of 1,674 miles in a little over 48 hours.
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