Solar Impulse Returns To Europe, Lands Safely In Madrid
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
After lifting off early Friday morning, July 6, and undergoing challenging conditions, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA aircraft of Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg landed safely in Madrid, Spain at 1:19 a.m. (local time) on July 7, completing the African/European connection of the Project’s journey.
Pilot Piccard took off from Rabat-Sale International Airport in Morocco and flew toward Tangier and then over the Strait of Gibraltar, then on to Seville, where the aircraft encountered strong crosswinds over the Iberian Peninsula. Piccard found a holding pattern west of Seville and waited for the appropriate moment to continue on towards Toledo.
After a little more than 17 hours in flight, the prototype aircraft landed safely in Spain’s capital city airport to a crowd of onlookers and media, celebrating the arrival of the zero fuel airplane that has so far logged more than 2,800 nautical miles on the sole energy of the Sun.
“Bertrand did a wonderful flight and the aircraft’s technology has once again proven its reliability and its energy savings efficiency,” Borschberg, co-founder and CEO of Solar Impulse, told reporters after Piccard made touchdown. “This flight has taught us even more about the aircraft allowing us to fly through winds superior to the speed of the airplane”
The 2012 Crossing Frontiers mission had chosen the Kingdom of Morocco for its destination to coincide and support the country’s commitment to solar energy and other renewable resources. Similar to the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy’s (MASEN) commitments to renewables, Spain has also demonstrated its pioneering effort in regards to renewable energy, which ties in with the message Solar Impulse is sending to the world, through its historic solar-powered mission.
“I hope that Europe will learn from Morocco’s example. It’s precisely during times of global crisis that there needs to be an investment in renewable energies and energy savings, providing us with what’s necessary to sustain employment, purchasing power and a positive trade balance,” said Piccard. “Thank you Morocco for giving us the good example by building the world’s largest solar power plant.”
With the Solar Impulse HB-SIA safely on the ground in Madrid, there will be a few days of events organized by Spanish officials before Piccard, Borschberg, and the aircraft return home to Payerne, Switzerland.