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Solar Impulse 2 completes first zero-fuel flight around the world

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Posted at 12:35 AM, Jul 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-26 00:35:17-04
The Solar Impulse 2 plane approaches Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The Solar Impulse 2 plane approaches Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The first aircraft powered solely by the sun made a historic landing in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, completing the 25,000 mile, round-the-world journey that began in March 2015.

The Swiss-engineered Solar Impulse 2 was piloted by Bertrand Piccard on the final part of its epic expedition that took off from Cairo earlier this week. The last stop completes its 17-leg, milestone journey using only the power of the sun’s rays.

The lightweight aircraft, which weighs the same as an SUV but has the wingspan of a Boeing 747, is the brainchild of Piccard and Bertrand Borschberg, a Swiss engineer and businessman. The aircraft is a single-seater, so the two men have shared the flying by taking different legs of the journey.

Solar Impulse 2 is piloted by Bertrand Piccard, left, and Andre Borschberg.

Solar Impulse 2 is piloted by Bertrand Piccard, left, and Andre Borschberg.

“What I’d like to show with my team is that clean technology today is showing incredible goals. You can fly now longer without fuel than with fuel, and you fly with the force of nature, you fly with the sun. It’s the new era now for energy and this is really what we’d like to inspire people to do,” Piccard said.

Solar Impulse 2 demonstrates the exploration of energy efficient batteries and clean technology that could potentially alter the way we travel.