Solar Impulse crosses Atlantic to land in Spain

Image: Piccard and Borschberg
Solar Impulse co-founders Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg salute the crowd after Piccard landed the Solar Impulse 2 airplane in Seville, Spain. (Credit: Zayed Energy Prize via Twitter)

The world’s most traveled fuel-free airplane, Solar Impulse 2, made better time than expected and landed in Spain today, leaving only 10 percent of its round-the-world odyssey to go.

“The Atlantic has always been the symbol of going from the Old World to the New World,” Solar Impulse co-founder and pilot Bertrand Piccard said after landing in Seville. “And everybody has tried to cross the Atlantic – with sailboats, steamboats, airships, airplanes, balloons, even rowboats and kitesurfs. Today, it’s a solar-powered airplane for the first time ever, flying electric, with no fuel and no pollution.”

Piccard was expected to take 90 hours to cross from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Seville, but he made the trip in only a little more than 71 hours.

“Only” is a relative term: A commercial airline flight from New York to Seville takes less than 11 hours, including a stopover in Madrid. But speed isn’t the point of Solar Impulse’s round-the-world odyssey. Rather, it’s sustainability.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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