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Solar Impulse-2 completes third leg in Varanasi

Flight to depart to Myanmar Thursday 5.30am local time

Abu Dhabi: Solar Impulse-2 (Si2), the first solar flight on a global trip, landed at North Indian holy city of Varanasi Wednesday evening, successfully completing its third leg of the historic mission.

André Borschberg, the co-founder and co-pilot of Solar Impulse -2 who was piloting the flight from Ahmedabad, landed at Varanasi at 8.33pm local time, a spokesperson for Solar Impulse team told Gulf News on Wednesday evening.

The team received a colourful  welcome in the presence of senior Indian officials at Varanasi airport, Elke Neumann, a press  officer at Solar Impulse, said on phone from Varanasi.

"The flight took off from Ahmedabad at 7.18am local time and flew 1185 kilometres in 13 hours and 15 minutes to reach Varanasi, she said.

Excited

"Everything is fine here and we are happy," she said about the situation in Varanasi.

Bertrand Piccard will take the turn as the pilot in the fourth leg from Varanasi to Mandalay in Myanmar, Neumann said.

The flight is scheduled to take off from Varanasi at 5.30am local time on Thursday for more than 12-hour-long leg to Mandalay.

"It is a new route and we are excited about it," she said.

The  Solar Impulse team had alleged that red tape caused around two-hour delay in its take-off from Ahmedabad airport in Western Indian State of Gujarat on Wednesday morning.

After Solar Impulse- 2 landed at Ahmedabad on March 10, its scheduled departure after two days was extended for a week due to bad weather.

But a further delay of around two hours from scheduled departure    on Wednesday morning occurred due to the lapse of the part of Indian authorities, a spokesperson of Solar Impulse team told Gulf News on Wednesday.

There was a delay in getting customs and immigration clearance, despite the best efforts from the team during the one-week long stay at Ahmedabad, Alexandra Gindroz, Media Relations Manager at Solar Impulse, said on phone from Switzerland headquarters of Solar Impulse.

Bertrand Piccard, co-founder and co-pilot, said that whenever he approached the authorities for clearance, they postponed it to the next day, which caused the delay in departure in the last minute, Gindroz said.

Indian Authorities were not immediately available for comments. But Times of India reported quoting an unnamed Indian immigration official at Ahmedabad airport that Piccard should have gone for his immigration clearance as soon as he had arrived at Ahmedabad airport on March 10.

"We go to the ladder only when PM, President or Chief Justice of India is coming. Piccard was neither a VVIP nor a state guest so he should have come for clearance upon his arrival,” he was quoted as saying.

The flight departed the Ahmedabad airport at 7.18 am local time was scheduled to arrive at North Indian holy city of Varanasi at 9pm, Gindroz said.

After an eight-hour halt at Varanasi, it will start its fourth leg to Mandalay in Myanmar, she said.  Solar Impulse-2 will halt at Mandalay for two days and proceed further to China, the spokesperson said.

The plane  that embarked on the historic five-month long global flight from Abu Dhabi on Monday morning , March 9, will fly 35,000 kilometres without a drop of fuel.

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