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Solar Plane Aiming for First Round-The-World Flight Lands in India

Crew members gather to push the Solar Impulse 2 towards a hangar after it landed at an airport in Ahmadabad, India, March 11, 2015.

The first round-the-world solar-powered flight landed in India on Wednesday, the second leg of a 35,000-km (22,000-mile) journey seeking to demonstrate that flying long distances fueled by renewable energy is possible.

The Solar Impulse 2 arrived in the west Indian city of Ahmedabad after a flight of about 15 hours over the Arabian Sea from Muscat in Oman.

“It's a privilege to fly in an aeroplane like that,” pilot Bertrand Piccard told reporters after landing.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Piccard and fellow pilot Andre Borschberg will take turns at the controls of Solar Impulse 2, which began its journey in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, as it makes its way around the globe in about 25 flight days at speeds of between 50 kph and 100 kph (30 mph to 60 mph).

The next stop is the north Indian city of Varanasi, the constituency of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has made boosting clean energy a priority for his government.

After leaving India, the plane will make stopovers in Myanmar and China before crossing the Pacific Ocean and flying across the United States and southern Europe to arrive back in Abu Dhabi by late July.

The aircraft is as heavy as a family car at 2,300 kg (5,100 lb) but has a wingspan as wide as the largest airliner.

The design and construction of the Solar Impulse took 12 years. A first version of the craft rolled out in 2009 and broke records for height and distance travelled by a manned solar plane.