Solar Impulse 2, has created history by circumnavigating the globe without using a drop of fossil fuel. It has covered more than 40,000km in its quest to become the first plane to circle the world using just the energy from the Sun. The Cairo-Abu Dhabi flight marked the 17th and final segment in the journey, which has included crossings of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Read on to find out how this epic journey that started in March, 2015, in Abu Dhabi culminated in the UAE capital today, on July 26, 2016.
Reporting by Binsal Abdul Kader and Sarvy Geranpayeh.
Pilots on the historic journey (video):
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, tweeted on Tuesday morning that Solar Impulse 2's arrival was not the end, but the beginning of more achievements:
Final flight of Solar Impulse 2: As it happened
It has been an eventful morning at Al Bateen Executive Airport. History has been made here in Abu Dhabi today. The message from the entire team is there is no limit to the spirit of innovation and human endurance can achieve the impossible.
We asked pilot Bertrand Piccard whether he was not tired after flying the plane all the way from Cairo.
His answer: Noooo, you can't be tired on a day like this.
Piccard said he is very emotional about his journey coming to an end. He can't believe he will not be flying the plane anymore.
Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar: “The pilots have captured world's attention and delivered the message for a sustainable future. Today Si2 has proven that they could make the impossible possible and innovation has no limits.”
For Masdar, it is a great source of pride and inspiration. As the leader of developing renewable energy locally, regionally, and globally, we are committed to take this (legacy) forward.
Prince Albert of Monaco: “The spouses of the pilots have also played a role with their support to their husbands during this adventurous project. The incredible message given by them will transform clean energy industry.”
He also shared a famous quote in appreciation of the pilots: "For the good future, you must not only dream but you enable it also."
Doris Leuthard, Vice-President of Switzerland: “Si2 has inspired many people. It says that there is a room for optimism (about future). Research by many Swiss companies and institutions have contributed to the success of this project. This will inspire many companies and youngsters to do more research (in this sector), which may facilitate technology transfer.”
A 5 minute break is declared as the team prepare to take questions from the audience.
Bertrand: "Why don't we dream more? Why don't we try more? When you see the results today, it's because our team dreamed. A lot is starting today. A lot is possible because we have dared to fail, when you dare to fail you can succeed."
Pilot Bertrand Piccard can barely hold back his tears as he speaks. "When you see the state of the world today it is a crime to not try and make the world a better place," he said.
Pilots are in tears and emotional as they get up to address the audience, after their warm welcome (video):
Room erupts with applause after a short video of the pilot's journey is shown.
Both pilots are in tears and emotional as they get up to address the audience, after their warm welcome.
Pilots on the historic journey (video):
Prince Albert of Monaco: "Glad to be back in Abu Dhabi. This is not the end of the journey, this is just the beginning for clean energy. This is a historic day for aviation and clean energy. It is up to us and future generations to carry this forward."
The press conference begins. The pilots receive a standing ovation and loud cheers as they walk to the stage.
Officials and pilots addressing the media. Sarvy Geranpayeh/Gulf News
The pilots have entered the press conference room and are getting ready to take their seats and answer questions. But it is a long journey to the top table as everyone in the room wants to shake their hands.
Doris Leuthard, Vice-President of Switzerland, Prince Albert of Monaco, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar, André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard expected to address the media soon.
The wheels are blocked, the first round-the-world solar flight is now completed after 40'000 without fuel! pic.twitter.com/eFuuYdNJcl— SOLAR IMPULSE (@solarimpulse) July 26, 2016
The plane is being moved to the hanger where we expect to hear from the pilots and the Masdar team.
Prince Albert of Monaco joins Piccard and Borschberg at the platform near the cockpit.
Borschberg also welcomed the Vice President of Switzerland also to the dais. "Solar Impulse was born in Switzerland," Borschberg said.
Piccard welcomed Sultan Al Jaber again to the dais. Dr. Thani Bin Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment also joins the dignitaries.
Solar impulse 2 is brought into the hanger after the welcoming ceremony (video):
Solar Impulse team celebrates the achievement.
Piccard and Borschberg are posing for a photograph with their team members. A team of 120-people was involved in the global flight. While around 60 people accompanied the plane, the rest of the team controlled the project from Mission Control Centre in Monaco.
UAE national anthem welcomes Solar Impulse 2 back to Abu Dhabi (video):
Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar joined Piccard and Andrew at the elevated platform positioned close to aircraft's door. The UAE National anthem was played.
Watch Facebook video of the welcome ceremony below:
Piccard addresses the gathering from the aircraft door. "Salam Alaikkum..good morning Abu Dhabi. Thank you for your welcome. I have been waiting for this moment for past 15 years. We have flown 40,000 kilometres without a drop of fuel. Now it is your turn to take it forward."
Pilot Bertrand Piccard speaks to the media upon arrival at Al Bateen Airport . AP
"I have waited for this moment for 15 years," pilot Bertrand Piccard.
Celebrations have started. The Si2 is being moved close to airport, accompanied by the band and a big UAE national flag spread and carried by Emirati men.
Loud applause is heard from the crowd as Bertrand Piccard coming out of the cockpit. Andre Borchberg went up and opened the door and accompanied him to the ground.
As usual two cyclists whose bikes were connected to Si2 helped landing the aircraft. The cyclists on both sides of Si2 help balance the aircraft during the landing.
“Now we have boarded the bus to go back to the tent.” Piccard and Borschberg will address the press conference at 5.45am
Video: Our reporter Sarvy Geranpayeh on the proud and historic moment:
A warning from a Solar Impulse staff worked. "If you don’t move back and board the bus, you will miss the bus (and will be left behind on the runway).
Officials had a tough time in controlling the excited media men and visors who rushed towards the Si2. No one was allowed to go nearby the aircraft, reports Binsal Abdul Kader.
Solar Impulse 2 makes historic landing in Abu Dhabi, becoming the first plane to circle the globe without using any fuel. All are running towards si2 to welcome Piccard.
Solar Impulse 2 lands (Video):
We are witnessing history. One of the greatest adventures and innovations of this century. Si2 is touching down.
A spokeswoman said the plane could be waiting for Air Traffic Controller's permission to land. But there is no problem of air traffic because the airport has been closed to facilitate Si2's landing.
Solar Impulse 2 prepares to land (video):
And the pilot must also be looking for low temperature also. "It can't land if it is too hot. The scheduled landing is 4am and is going to happen now." she said
The plane is coming down now.
A Solar Impulse spokeswoman just told Gulf News that there are no crosswinds at the moment. "Everything is perfectly fine." She said the plane is circling at sky as part of the routine landing process.
"We had a nice view of Si2 getting close to the half-moon at the sky," our reporter says.
"We are watching the iconic solar impulse -2 from the ground. It is circling above the runway," Gulf News reporter from the scene. See video below.
Solar Impulse 2 prepares to land (video):
"We are getting close to ruway. Iconic Sheikh Zayed Mosque is seen on our right hand side. The historic plane will touch down Abu Dhabi beside the iconic mosque, " our reporter says.
Media persons have boarded the bus to move towards the runway to witness the historic event.
Around 280 people will witness the historic landing at around 4am. They include about 200 media people from local and international media, a Solar Impulse spokeswoman told Gulf News. Other invitees are officials, diplomats and other dignitaries in the capital.
It is just after 3am but you would not think so by looking around Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi. It is buzzing with excitement as everyone awaits the historic landing of the Solar Impulse 2, the first aircraft to travel the world without using any fossil fuels.
André Borschberg, the co-founder and co-pilot, addressed the media. He said: "It is one hour to go (for the historic landing). Now emotion is building up. I spoke to Bertrand Piccard half-an hour ago. He is well. He is not in hurry to land"
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Solar Impulse wants to work with Abu Dhabi on electric planes
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