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Sun-Powered Airplane Makes Historic First Trip Around the World

Technology By
Solar Impulse
Solar Impulse 2, the solar-powered plane, flies above the Giza Pyramids as the sun-powered aircraft finishes its penultimate flight, landing in Egypt on July 13, 2016. (Jean Revillard/Solar Impulse 2/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Call these guys the Charles Lindberghs of solar flight. On July 26, the Solar Impulse became the first aircraft to loop the world on the sun’s power alone.

The record-breaking feat was piloted by Swiss airmen Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, who swapped piloting duties of the single-seater over a 23-day period (chiseled into 17 stages). The two began the journey on March 9, 2015, and covered nearly 30,000 miles.

Solar Impulse
(Jean Revillard via Getty Images)


Piccard is a medical doctor, who already held the world record for the first non-stop round-the-world flight in a balloon. Borschberg is an engineer, fighter pilot, and professional flyer. The journey kicked off in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and stopped in a number of locations, including Muscat, Oman; Nanjing, China; Hawaii, San Francisco, and New York.

For more on the Solar Impulse, watch the video below.