New Delhi: An experimental solar-powered plane has landed safely after completing its first 24-hour test flight, proving that the aircraft can collect enough energy from the sun during the day to stay aloft all night. Skip related content
Pilot Andre Borschberg eased the Solar Impulse onto the runway at Payerne airfield about 30 miles southwest of the Swiss capital Bern at 9am local time.
The 57-year-old former Swiss fighter who wore a parachute for the flight, dodged low-level turbulence and thermal winds, endured freezing conditions during the night and ended the test flight with a picture-perfect landing to cheers and whoops from hundreds of supporters on the ground.
Helpers rushed to stabilise the pioneering plane as it touched down, ensuring that its massive 207-foot wingspan didn’t scrape the ground and topple the craft.
The record feat completes seven years of planning and brings the Swiss-led project one step closer to its goal of circling the globe using only energy from the sun.
After completing final tests on the plane after landing, Borschberg embraced project co-founder Bertrand Piccard, before gingerly unstrapping himself from the bathtub size cockpit he had spent more than 26 hours sitting in.
Piccard, himself a record-breaking balloonist, said many people had been sceptical that renewable energy could ever be used to take a man into the air and keep him there.
“After landing we have shown that with renewable energies and energy savings, we can achieve impossible things. so there is a before and after in terms of what people have to believe and understand about renewable energies”, he said.
The team will now set its sights on an Atlantic crossing, before attempting a round-the-world flight in 2013, making only five stops along the way.