On this day: First anniversary of Solar Impulse 2’s historic three-day solar-powered flight across the Atlantic

solar-impulse piccard_2016On this day in history, 23 June: Solar Impulse 2 successfully completed the world’s first solar-powered flight across the Atlantic on 23 June 2016, establishing a world first and setting four FAI world records.

Solar Impulse 2, the first solar-powered plane to circumnavigate the world, successfully completed the world’s first solar-powered Atlantic crossing on 23 June 2016.

The plane, which was piloted by Dr Bertrand Piccard during its record flight across the Atlantic, took off at 2.30am local time from New York on 20 June 2016. After almost exactly three days in the air, it landed at Seville International Airport in the south of Spain at 7.38am local time.

It had flown for 71 hours and 8 minutes at a height of up to 8,534m, covering a total distance of 6,765 km – a straight-line distance of 5,851.3 km between the two points.

solar-impulse piccard_2016_3Solar Impulse 2 on the runway at JFK international airport © Solar Impulse | Revillard | Rezo.ch

The Solar Impulse 2 team set four FAI world records for the flight. Those are:

  1. Distance, in the Electric-Powered Aeroplane category: 5,851.3 km
  2. Distance along a course with pre-declared waypoints, in the Experimental and New Technologies / Solar-Powered Aeroplane category: 5,851.3 km
  3. Speed over a recognised course, in the Electric-Powered Aeroplane category: 80.6 km/h
  4. Altitude, in the Electric-Powered Aeroplane category: 8,531 m

The team had hoped to land in Paris, to echo the historic transatlantic flight of pioneer aviator Charles Lindbergh in 1927. However, bad weather meant the flight-plan was re-routed south and Seville was chosen as the safest option.
After landing in Seville, the Solar Impulse team said: “The transatlantic flight [was] powered only by the sun, confirming Solar Impulse’s vision that clean technologies and renewable energy can achieve the impossible.”
Dr Piccard said: “With this transatlantic flight our aim is to inspire the adoption of clean technologies everywhere.”

solar-impulse piccard_2016_2Solar Impulse 2 overflying of the Spanish Eagle Patrol © Solar Impulse

The landing in Spain was welcomed by the Eagle Patrol of the Spanish Air Force.

The transatlantic flight was the 15th leg of the Solar Impulse 2 project to fly around the world in the revolutionary solar-powered plane. After two more legs – Seville to Cairo and Cairo to Abu Dhabi – it completed the journey on 26 July 2016 after 42,000 km in the air.

Top photo: Solar Impulse Initiator and Chairman Bertrand Piccard and CEO and Co-Founder André Borschberg after the landing in Seville © Solar Impulse | Revillard | Rezo.ch