, MUSCAT, Oman, Mar 10 – Solar Impulse 2 took off Tuesday from Oman, launching the second leg of its epic bid to become the first solar-powered plane to fly around the world, in a test of its pilots’ endurance.
The aircraft took off from Muscat at 6.35am (0235 GMT) for what is expected to be a 16-hour, 1,465 kilometre journey over the Arabian Sea to Ahmedabad in India.
Pilot Bertrand Piccard was at the controls, taking over from fellow Swiss aviator Andre Borschberg.
On Monday Borschberg had touched down in Muscat after the first leg of the journey, 13 hours and two minutes after leaving Abu Dhabi.
“The adventure has started,” Solar Impulse chairman Bertrand Piccard said just after Borschberg took off in the early morning from Abu Dhabi’s Al-Bateen airport on the historic journey aimed at promoting green energy.
Borschberg spoke of an “emotional” trip, telling reporters in Muscat he cruised at 6,000 metres (almost 20,000 feet) because the trip was “short”. READ: Solar plane set for landmark round the world flight.
Piccard is set to fly higher on the trip to Ahmedabad, Borschberg said.
Both pilots wore traditional Omani turbans as they received an official welcome in the Gulf sultanate.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon hailed the venture and congratulated the pilots.
“We take inspiration from their example and efforts to harness the power of multilateralism to address climate change and to inspire the world to achieve sustainable development,” his spokesman said.
“With their daring and determination, we can all fly into a new sustainable future.”