First solar-powered round-the-world flight took off from Abu Dhabi

Prince Albert gave the “GO” from the Monaco Control Center

Early on Monday, March 9, 2015, the skies over Abu Dhabi had cleared and at 07:12 hours local time (04:12 in Monaco), Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg aboard Solar Impulse 2 became airborne, for the first stage of the epic tentative to circumnavigate the globe, in an airplane capable to fly day and night, without conventional fuel and without polluting emissions, powered by the rays of the sun, on about 400km for an estimated time of 12 hours. The next pit stop will be Muscat in Oman, where pilot Bertrand Piccard will be at the controls on the second part of the trip flying to India.

The team at the Monaco Control Center (MCC), located on the 3rd floor of the Auditorium Rainier III, and lead by Raymond Clerc, requested HSH Prince Albert II to give the “Go” to the pilot who was on stand by on the runway takeoff of the Emirates airport. “Andre, I have excellent news for you: I am authorized to give you the final GO to take off. Good flight and good sun,” declared the Prince, who was accompanied by HE Michel Roger, Minister of State and Bernard Fautrier, Vice President of the Prince Albert II Foundation.

The pioneer pilots

Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg have engaged in a five-month journey, along 35,000 kilometers, crossing several continents, flying during both day and night. The first stage of the trip will be short compared to the longer legs, which will take up to five or six days and nights. “I am confident we have a very special airplane, and it will have to be to get us across the big oceans,” Borschberg told the BBC. The pioneer pilots have gone through a tough training program that will allow them to spend a total of 500 hours behind the controls over the whole trip, taking turns in the rather tight 3.8sqm single-seat cockpit. They packed light with only essentials for the journey, with enough food and water for a week, as well as a parachute, life raft and oxygen bottles in case of emergencies.

“If the Wright brothers hadn’t put their lives on the line, we would not be flying around the world these days. So we need pioneers.” Felix Baumgartner

Stay tuned for updated information on this epic adventure!

 

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