Solar Impulse 2 closes in on circumnavigation with Cairo arrival

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Solar Impulse 2 over the Great Pyramid(Credit: Solar Impulse)

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Solar Impulse 2 completed the penultimate leg of its solar-powered global circumnavigation today, touching down at Cairo International Airport at 10:13 pm PDT (5:14 GMT). With pilot André Borschberg at the controls, the single-seater aircraft landed after leaving Seville, Spain over two days ago on a Mediterranean flight that took it through the airspaces of Tunisia, Algeria, Malta, Italy, and Greece.

Today's dawn landing came after a photo op detour over the Great Pyramid and marks Borschberg's last time flying the experimental fuel-free aircraft. Alternate pilot Bertrand Piccard will conduct the 17th and final leg of the journey to the starting point in Abu Dhabi, completing the world's first circumnavigation for a solar-powered aircraft that began in March 2015.

The total flight time was 48 hours and 51 minutes and Solar Impulse 2 covered 2,303 mi (3,706 km) entirely under solar power provided by the panels on the wings and lithium-ion batteries during the hours of darkness. The date of the 17th and final leg has yet to be announced, but will depend on the weather and the condition of the aircraft.

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