Solar Impulse 2 round the world flight takes off from Abu Dhabi

The first stage of the Solar Impulse 2 attempt to circumnavigate the world using only solar power has begun with the take-off at 7:12 local time (03:12 GMT) on 9 March 2015.

Swiss pilot André Borschberg was at the controls of Si2, monitored by Mission Control Center (MCC) in Monaco, on the flight to Muscat in Oman. His fellow pilot Bertrand Piccard will then take them onwards across the Arabian Sea to Ahmedabad in India.

It has taken 12 years for Bertrand Piccard, the initiator and chairman of the project, and André Borschberg, the founder and CEO, to bring their dream to fruition. Their aim is to demonstrate the importance of renewable energy for the future.

Solar Impulse 2 is the largest aircraft ever built with such a low weight, equivalent to that of a small car. It has a wing span greater than a Boeing 747, covered in more than 17,000 solar cells. It can fly up to an altitude of 28,000ft at speeds ranging from 27 to 54 knots.

Si2 is capable of flying for several consecutive days and nights. It will travel 35,000km in 25 days over the course of around five months, passing over the Arabian Sea, India, Myanmar, China and the Pacific Ocean. After crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the final legs include a stop-over in Southern Europe or North Africa before completing the round-the-world flight back in Abu Dhabi. During 12 scheduled stops, the Solar Impulse team and its partners will take part in public events for governments, schools and universities.

“We are very ambitious in our goal, but modest given the magnitude of the challenge,” says Bertrand Piccard. “This is an attempt, and only time will tell if we can overcome the numerous weather, technical, human and administrative issues.”

Solar Impulse 2’s estimated arrival at Muscat International Airport is 19:00 local time (15:00 GMT).

You can follow live progress of Solar Impulse 2 on www.youtube.com/user/SolarImpulseChannel

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