HB-SIA, piloted by Bertrand Piccard, gracefully lifted itself off the ground this morning at 05:01AM (UTC) from Toulouse-Francazal airport impatient to make its way back to its home base in Payerne (Switzerland). This is the prototype’s final leg of the world’s first roundtrip intercontinental flight entirely powered by the sun.
The experimental aircraft took-off for this Crossing Frontiers adventure exactly two months ago, on May 24, and today's flight also coincides with the 115th anniversary of Amelia Earhart's birth, a pioneer and first woman to have crossed the Atlantic Ocean solo in 1932 and first to do it twice. The voyage led it over the French Massif Central and the Pyrenees into the capital city of Madrid before proceeding on south above the Strait of Gibraltar and into Rabat (Morocco) on the African continent. The highlight of the journey was reaching Ouarzazate, a difficult destination even for commercial airlines because of the region’s strong winds and turbulence. These achievements have strengthened the confidence in the aircraft’s technological prowess and in its energy efficiency, landing each time with nearly a full set of batteries.
Today’s flight is expected to evolve smoothly as the aircraft starts flying south of Toulouse, avoiding the city and air traffic from its commercial airport, and towards the Massif Central where Bertrand will have gained an altitude of approximately 3’000 meters. Once over the Massif, the solar airplane will fly towards Mâcon and Pontarliers where it will cross the Franco-Swiss border. It is expected to land sometime around 08:00PM (UTC+2) to the jubilant welcome of the Solar Impulse team and the public.
Don’t forget about the Solar Impulse photo contest that’s going on now! Bertrand will be flying at low altitude throughout the flight, a perfect occasion to catch a glimpse of the aircraft on your cameras. Just upload you best shot and test your skill to be one of two winners. At stake are a Solar Impulse cap, an official team Polo shirt and a Solar Impulse book signed by the founders and pilots André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard.
Follow the adventure!
HB-SIA, piloted by Bertrand Piccard, gracefully lifted itself off the ground this morning at 05:01AM (UTC) from Toulouse-Francazal airport impatient to make its way back to its home base in Payerne (Switzerland). This is the prototype’s final leg of the world’s first roundtrip intercontinental flight entirely powered ...