André Borschberg successfully returns to Rabat
Although the flight was shorter than previously expected, the landing airport turned out to be the same as the departure one, completed at 11:14 PM (UTC+1) this evening. A running joke within the team is saying André couldn’t handle the desert heat (43°C this afternoon), choosing the cooler and more enjoyable climate of Rabat instead.
Obviously that wasn’t the reason, but at least we know that the team’s spirit is still high and that André will be welcomed with glee. This situation is a perfect reminder of how challenging and difficult the Solar Impulse missions are and how flexible and prepared the entire team and the host country must be. Thanks to the professionalism of Masen, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy, the logistics support for the unexpected chain of events were managed efficiently and effectively.
“Given the challenging meteorological conditions over the Moroccan desert, the team had already outlined all the possible scenarios, including a possible return on Rabat. The decision was the best albeit not the easiest to accept. It is an experience that renders us humble when faced with nature,” said André Borschberg as he joined the rest of the Solar Impulse team waiting on the runway.
The fact that André and the HB-SIA have made it back safely overshadowed any residue of disappointment caused by the return to Rabat. Each and every member of the team is aware of the of the solar airplane’s limitations and of its experimental nature. The result is that we are all prepared for new challenges while maintaining a positive and supportive attitude.
As Bertrand reminded us during an interview with Solar Impulse TV, the HB-SIA was first and foremost meant to demonstrate that a solar airplane can fly through the night, but although it has exceeded its expectations by successfully completing an intercontinental flight, it still remains a prototype and technological experiment.
Pilot: André Borschberg, CEO and co-founder
Take-off time: 13/06/2012 07:07 UTC
Time of decision to fly back: 13/06/2012 14:34 UTC
Time of landing: 13/06/2012 23:14 UTC
Flight duration: 16 hours 6 min
Average speed: 55 km/h
Average altitude: 5’000 meters (16'400 feet)
Flight Distance: 780 km
Although the flight was shorter than previously expected, the landing airport turned out to be the same as the departure one, ...