Monday, July 11, 2016

Solar Impulse II takes off from Seville for Cairo

After two weeks in Seville, Solar Impulse II, a solar-powered aircraft flying all over the world, took off at 6.18am (4.18 GMT) Monday morning en route to Cairo.

After a night of intense preparations, pilot Andre Borschberg communicated with the control tower just after 6am and was given confirmation he could take off and continue the aircraft's round-the-world journey.

A few minutes earlier, Borschberg had appeared before the media at the foot of the plane to express his hopes to continue "without disappointing the world because we cannot disappoint everyone who sees us and follows us", referring to both the international press and the thousands of people following the mission on social networks.

More than 1,000 people connected to the live-streaming app Periscope this morning to follow the event. Most of them can interact with the pilot during flight throughout many phases of their journey.

Every day, thanks to cameras installed in the plane's cockpit and wings, thousands of followers can track the aircraft's journey, monitored in real time by a team of engineers at the mission control center in Monaco.

Borschberg emphasized the mental strength needed to push the project forward, joking that when he is on the ground "sometimes I think I'm still flying".

After being authorized to take off, the plane left the airport in Seville en route to the Egyptian capital, where it is scheduled to arrive within 48 to 72 hours.

The single-seater aircraft, which is made of carbon fiber, can maintain a cruise speed between 45 and 55 miles per hour, and reach a maximum flying attitude of 8,500 meters.

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