The world's biggest
solar powered aircraft, Solar Impulse, on Tuesday touched down at
its home base in Payerne, Switzerland, crossing the finish-line for
its fuel-free intercontinental voyage.
The final leg of the unprecedented 6,000-kilometer trip started on Tuesday morning from the Toulouse-Francazal airport in southern France, where the aircraft piloted by Bertrand Piccard took off and headed towards the elevated French Massif Central at an altitude of approximately 3,000 meters.
After flying over the Massif, the Solar impulse headed west of Lyon towards Roanne, Macon and Pontarlier where it crossed the Franco-Swiss border.
The aircraft then overflew the Jura mountain area before safely landed at its final destination at approximately 18:30 GMT, flying back and forth between Europe and Africa without a single drop of fuel.
Solar Impulse set off for its adventure exactly two months ago, on May 24. The voyage led it over the Massif Central and the Pyrenees into the Spanish Capital Madrid before proceeding south above the Strait of Gibraltar and into Rabat (Morocco) on the African continent.
After a temporary stay in Morocco, the plane began its homebound trip on July 6, with two stops made at Madrid and Toulouse.
The intercontinental flight is a final dress rehearsal for a round-the-world attempt in 2014. It will also prepare the Solar Impulse team to face challenges of regular air traffic patterns, cooperation with international airports and logistic maintenance issues.
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