A solar-powered plane's about to complete a historic round the world trip

 
Lynsey Barber
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Solar Impulse Flies Over Egypt
Solar Impulse 2 has travelled around the world without fuel (Source: Getty)

History is about to be made, as an aircraft becomes the first to complete a round the world flight powered by nothing other than sunlight.

Solar Impulse 2 has embarked on its last leg of the journey in its record-breaking attempt, taking off from the Egyptian capital city of Cairo early on Sunday morning as it heads for the final landing in Abu Dhabi.

The solar-powered craft is on the 17th and final leg of the journey which kicked off in Abu Dhabi more than a year ago.

The route

It's already broken several records, including becoming the first to cross an ocean in a solar plane and achieving the longest flight. The journey from Japan to Hawaii last year - the eighth leg of the trip - came in at just shy of 118 hours, or five days.

The giant plane has a wing span of 72 metres but weighs less than a car. It is able to fly continuously, including through the night, by storing the solar energy.

Explore the plane

The project is the brainchild of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, both of whom have piloted the craft along parts of the journey.

Watch the flight and landing live

Hot weather will pose a challenge to the flight in this neck of the woods and the team of engineers working on the project have been gearing up for the right time to start the final leg of the journey when it comes to the weather.

“It’s very emotional to take off from Egypt with Si2, given that I landed here in 1999 after accomplishing the first nonstop round the world balloon flight," said Piccard.

"It’s precisely here that started my dream of making another circumnavigation, but this time without fuel, only on solar power. I’m excited to come so close to the goal, but unfortunately there are still so many people we have to motivate before having a world running on the same clean technologies," he said.

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The pair embarked on the ground-breaking trip to push the development of sustainable technologies and show that clean technologies can "change lives, societies and future markets".

Solar Impulse is scheduled to make its final landing after an approximately 48 hour trip, on 26 July.

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