Solar Impulse Completes Record-Setting Flight Around the World
On July 26, 2016, Solar Impulse — an experimental fixed-wing plane that's entirely solar powered — landed in Abu Dhabi, completing the first around-the-world flight powered by only the sun's energy. The aircraft gets its energy from 17,248 photovoltaic solar cells that cover the top of the 236-foot wing, the fuselage, and the tailplane, and cruises at 56 mph. It was alternatively piloted by project co-founders Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg who divided their journey into 17 legs to cover the 26,744 miles, which took 558 total hours, or 23 days, of flight time. The longest segment, Leg 8 from Nagoya, Japan to Oahu, Hawaii, took 117 hours and 52 minutes, and earned Borschberg the record for longest solo flight in aviation history. He used yoga and meditation techniques to keep his blood circulating, and relied on autopilot, when able, to take 20-minute catnaps.
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