Solar Plane Takes Off For Varanasi After Extended Stopover in Ahmedabad

The Solar Impulse 2 has taken off for Varanasi after a stopover in Ahmedabad.


The world's only solar-powered aircraft 'Solar Impulse-2' today took off for Varanasi from Ahmedabad after a week's stopover in the city as part of its round-the-world trip.

The take-off was delayed by nearly two hours due to customs issues. The 'no-fuel', purely solar-powered aircraft was earlier scheduled to fly at 5.30 am.

Earlier, the SI-2 team had postponed departure from its scheduled date on March 15 due to bad weather conditions. Later, it was scheduled for departure on March 17, which was extended by one more day until today.

The globe-trotting SI-2 landed at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Gujarat's Ahmedabad on March 10, around 15 hours after it took off from Muscat.

Andre Borschberg, the project's co-founder and pilot, besides its co-pilot as well as president Bertrand Piccard had spent more than a week in the city.

Unhappy with the delay in taking off from Ahmedabad Mr Borschberg said, "The delay is administration. I am not here to accuse anybody. Since past five days, we have been trying to get all the stamps and paperwork. But every day, they say tomorrow,"

The aircraft began its journey on March 9 from Abu Dhabi. Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard had flown the plane from Muscat to Ahmedabad, while his co-pilot Borschbergh today flew the solar-powered aircraft to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

From Varanasi, the SI-2 is scheduled to fly to Mandalay in Myanmar, Chongqing and Nanjing in China and thereafter to the USA.

Much bigger crossings lie ahead for Borschberg and co-pilot Bertrand Piccard as they traverse the great oceans in the single-seat aircraft.

The longest single leg will see one of them fly solo non-stop for five days and nights across the Pacific from Nanjing, China, to Hawaii - a distance of 8,500 kilometres (5,270 miles).

The plane's maiden leg last Monday took Borschberg 13 hours and two minutes, while Piccard's flight to Ahmedabad of 1,468 kilometres (912 miles) was hailed as the longest point-to-point distance flown by a solar-powered plane.