Solar Impulse grabs pyramid photo as fuel-free aircraft lands in Cairo

Solar Impulse 2 landed in Cairo on Wednesday for the penultimate stop in the solar-powered plane’s world tour, two days after setting off from Spain. The experimental plane had completed the first solo transatlantic flight powered only by sunlight to land in Spain last month, and will continue from Cairo to Abu Dhabi, where it began its marathon journey in March last year. After setting off from Seville on Monday morning, the plane passed through Algerian, Tunisian, Italian and Greek airspace, and flew over the Giza Pyramids before touching down at Cairo airport at 0510 GMT. Its support crew cheered as the plane, no heavier than a car but with the wingspan of a Boeing 747, landed, and trailed after it on bicycles.

It was fantastic, everything worked well.

Pilot Andre Borschberg

Pilot Andre Borschberg emerged from the cockpit and hugged Bertrand Piccard, with whom he has taken turns flying the plane around the world. Solar Impulse is being flown on its 35,400km (22,000 mile) trip round the world in stages, with Piccard and his Swiss compatriot Borschberg alternating at the controls of the single-seat plane. Picard, who had arrived early to greet the plane, told reporters that flying Solar Impulse 2 was “magic”. He said: “It’s a new era for energy. I love to fly this plane because when you are in the air for several days you have the impression to be in a film of science fiction.”

You look at the sun, you look at your motors, they turn for days and for days, no fuel. And you think that’s a miracle. That’s magic. It is actually the reality of today. This is what we can do with these new technologies.

Bertrand Piccard