Solar Impulse’s history-making 22,000-mile flight around the world ended tonight with a solar-powered landing in the dark in Abu Dhabi, where it all began more than 16 months ago.
After two straight days of flying, Swiss psychiatrist-adventurer Bertrand Piccard aced the landing at Al Bateen Executive Airport just after 4 a.m. local time Tuesday (5 p.m. PT Monday), The touchdown marked the conclusion of the first-ever round-the-world journey completed by a solar-powered airplane.
“We made it!” Piccard told the cheering crowd on the runway just after landing.
Prince Albert of Monaco, one of Solar Impulse’s biggest backers, joined other dignitaries, scores of well-wishers and a bagpipe band at the finish-line celebration.
Piccard and Solar Impulse’s other pilot and co-founder, Andre Borschberg, organized the $170 million sponsor-funded effort to show off clean technologies – and potentially blaze a trail for fuel-free solar electric aviation.
“The future is clean. The future is you. The future is now. Let’s take it further,” Piccard told the crowd.