July 2, 2012
Solar Impulse Continues Journey Home With Flight To Madrid
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
After having flown more than 2,400 miles without a drop of fuel, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA aircraft of Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg will continue its journey home, with the next flight scheduled to depart from Rabat-Sale International Airport in Morocco at about 8:00 a.m. (local time) July 3, 2012, and arrive at Madrid-Barajas Airport in Spain around 1:00 a.m. on July 4.
The flight will take Piccard, who will be at the controls for this leg of the journey, in the direction of Tangier, ascending to an altitude of 13,000 feet in preparation of crossing the Strait of Gibraltar on its way to the coast of Spain. The plane will then ascend higher, to more than 26,000 feet and head in the direction of Seville and Toledo and then begin its descent toward Madrid.
Upon touchdown at Madrid-Barajas Airport, a few days of official events will be organized by Spanish authorities and Solar Impulse partners to celebrate the arrival and to honor the last stop of the solar-powered craft before it makes its final flight to Switzerland.
After spending a fulfilling month in the Kingdom of Morocco, with scheduled events and speeches at area schools, universities and public venues, Solar Impulse is readying for its final departure from the country that gave the aircraft its toughest challenges to date.
While the Solar Impulse project organizers readied for their departure, a number of companies made their way to the hangar to meet with and congratulate the team on their success so far. What was most impressive, according to the HB-SIA team, was the enriching experience to have such a heterogeneous group of people coming to see this revolutionary solar aircraft.
“During the numerous encounters we had with the Moroccan people, even in remote areas, what struck us the most was their awareness of the Solar Impulse program, understanding of the convergence between our airplane and the Moroccan energy policy, and their recognition of solar energy´s great potential to improve their lives. If only it could be like this in our own country,” said Piccard, coordinator of the Solar Impulse program.
“We are absolutely delighted to have had the chance to share history's, and the world's, first with so many people from different horizons. We are certain that the conviction and engagement of our country to voluntarily position itself in favor of solar energy has only increased.”_ said Mustafa Bakkoury, President of solar energy producer MASEN.
“With this flight to Morocco, we have validated the capacity of the airplane to fly through difficult regions. The first attempt to Ouarzazate followed by the successful completion of the mission has trained the entire team. I have the feeling that we´ve accumulated experiences and wisdoms which have strengthened our confidence for the round the world flight.” said Borschberg, Co-founder and CEO of Solar Impulse.
Follow the timeline of events here.