Solar Impulse 2 completes first solar transatlantic flight

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Solar Impulse 2 approaching touchdown in Seville(Credit: Solar Impluse)

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Solar Impulse 2 has flown into the history books again as it completed the first solar-powered flight across the Atlantic. With Bertrand Piccard at the controls, the single-seater aircraft touched down in Seville, Spain, at 7:38 am local time – over 71 hours after it left JFK airport in New York. Covering a distance of 6,765 km (4,203 mi), this completes the 15th leg of the experimental aircraft's bid to be the first solar-powered aircraft to circumnavigate the world.

According to Solar Impulse, the original plan was to echo the flight of Charles Lindbergh's historic first solo transatlantic flight in 1927 by landing in Paris, but bad weather over the French capital required diverting Solar Impulse 2 to Spain. As Piccard made his landing approach, the Spanish Air Force's Patrulla Águila display trailed the Spanish colors in smoke across the sky in congratulations.

Today's landing took 71 hours and 8 minutes after the aircraft left New York at 2:30 am (local) on June 20. The timing of the flight was forced by an approaching cold front, which could have delayed takeoff. The aircraft reached a maximum altitude of 28,000 ft (8,534 m) and managed an average speed of 59 mph (95 km/h).

"This flight symbolized the step from the old world to the new world; our future is clean and it starts now," Piccard said as he disembarked in Seville.

The next leg of the flight will continue on to the finish line in Abu Dhabi.

The video below recaps the transatlantic flight.

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