Solar Impulse aircraft Moroccan-bound in first transcontinental flight


Swiss businessman and pilot Andre Borschberg eats as he takes part in a non-stop 72 hour flight simulation on a Solar Impulse plane simulator, at a military base hangar in Dubendorf, on February 24, 2012. Borschberg's successful flight simulation is one step further towards an around the world flight with the experimental solar powered Solar Impulse aircraft, which is planned for 2014.


Sebastien Bozon

The Solar Impulse aircraft, a solar-powered plane, is expected to land in Morocco from Spain tonight in its first transcontinental flight, reported SKY News

The jumbo-jet sized plane is on the second leg of a historic journey that began in May in a bid to make a complete world tour in 2014, according to BBC News

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The solar plane project was launched in 2003 by pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Boschberg. Their journey's first leg took them from Switzerland to Spain in May, said BBC

"The question is more to demonstrate that we can achieve incredible goals, almost impossible goals, with new technologies, without fuel, just with solar energy, and raise awareness that if we can do it in the air, of course everybody can do it on the ground," Piccard told Agence-France Press.

Piccard, a psychiatrist and former balloonist, is set to land tonight in Rabat, the Moroccan capital, said SKY News

Officials told AFP that the aircraft passed safely over the Strait of Gibraltar from Europe to Africa, marking its first transcontinental flight. 

The plane made history nearly two years ago by becoming the first manned solar plane to make a 26-hour flight without stopping, said BBC

Piccard -- who together Briton Brian Jones completed the world's first nonstop round-the-world balloon flight in 1999, said AFP -- is also posting updates of his journey on Twitter @bertrandpiccard.