Four continents, 24,800 miles, and more than 500 days later, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg are back where they started. The pair of Swiss pilots completed their round-the-world tour in the Solar Impulse 2 today, landing in Abu Dhabi early this morning.
The multiple record-breaking trip was completed without any fuel, trading off flying duties for the journey, which lasted a total of 17 legs, the final taking off from Cairo over the weekend. Among the pair’s impressive feats was completing the longest solo flight (from Japan to Hawaii) and crossing the Atlantic fuel-free.
The plane moved at an average speed of 46 miles per hour and the duo experienced a series of setbacks both mechanical and human, including stomach problems that delayed the last portion. The pilots had to sleep for 20 minute intervals and relieve themselves in their seat, unable to leave the tiny cockpit during flight.
After touching down, Piccard addressed the crowd with a statement of hopefulness. “The future is clean,” he said to applause. “The future is you. The future is now. Let’s take it further.