Solar plane lands in Morocco

AFP
Solar plane lands in Morocco

RABAT (AFP)

A solar plane landed late Tuesday in the Moroccan capital Rabat after flying across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain on the world’s first intercontinental flight in a plane powered by the sun.

Bertrand Piccard, a 54-year-old Swiss psychiatrist and balloonist, landed Solar Impulse at 11:30 pm (2230 GMT) under a full moon at Rabat Sale airport where he was welcomed by officials of the Moroccan Solar Energy Agency (MASEN).

Big marquees had been erected near the airport for the organisers of the flight, shown live on the site solarimpulse.com.

The plane was to stay in Rabat for five days before taking off for Ouarzazate in the south of Morocco for the launch by King Mohammed VI of construction of the largest-ever solar thermal plant.

The solar plane had taken off from Madrid’s Barajas airport at 5:22 am (0322 GMT).

Getting off the aircraft the pilot looked exhausted by the flight but was smiling. A special terminal had been set up by the Moroccan airport authorities with a large police presence.

Dozens of people, including flight organisers and Moroccan officials, gathered at the runway to witness the historic touchdown.

The aircraft did not use a drop of fuel on the flight.

Each of the motors on the carbon-fibre craft charges 400-kilogramme (880-pound) lithium polymer batteries during the day, allowing the aircraft to carry on flying after dark.

In the bright Spanish sun, the batteries had been recharged to full capacity by the afternoon.

“The question is not to use solar power for normal airplanes,” Piccard explained.

“The question is more to demonstrate that we can achieve incredible goals, almost impossible goals, with new technologies, without fuel, just with solar energy, and raise awareness that if we can do it in the air, of course everybody can do it on the ground.”

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Posted on June 6, 2012, in Morocco News, Solar Energy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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