The Swiss-built Solar Impulse 2 airplane rose into the skies over Cairo, Egypt, tonight to finish off its 16-month, 22,000-mile, fuel-free journey around the world.
The 17th and final leg of the odyssey began at 1:29 a.m. Sunday local time (4:29 p.m. PT Saturday). If the itinerary proceeds according to plan, the solar-powered plane should arrive about 48 hours later in Abu Dhabi, where Solar Impulse started out in March of last year.
This last flight had to be postponed for a week because the winds were too strong, and because the pilot – Swiss psychiatrist-adventurer Bertrand Piccard – wasn’t feeling well enough to take on the grueling flight. Tonight, Piccard said such setbacks just came with the territory.
“This is an adventure,” Piccard told reporters before takeoff at Cairo International Airport. “It’s not a business plan, it’s an adventure.”