Flying around the world without a drop of fuel

IDG News Service | Mar 10, 2015

An airplane powered completely by the sun took off Monday embarking on an around the world flight.

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An airplane powered completely by the sun took off Monday embarking on an around the world flight. The plane will log 40,000 kilometers or 25,000 miles as it makes about a dozen stops in various cities around the globe. It has already made its first stop in Muscat, Oman, about 500 km east of Abu Dhabi where it took off. It's now en route to India.

Called Solar Impulse 2, the plane has four propellers and a wingspan larger than a Boeing 747. But for its size it only fits one pilot and weighs about the same as a mid sized car. It weight and wide wingspan allow it to fly at a slow 77 knots or 140 kilometers per hour and still stay aloft.

Two Swiss pilots Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard will switch off throughout the journey, which will include about 500 hours of flying.

The most grueling leg of the journey will be from China to Hawaii which will take 5 days non-stop.

The exact position of the plane can be monitored throughout its journey on a website set up by the team.

The entire point of the trip is to showcase the promise of clean and renewable energy.

The plane has a lightweight carbon frame and four 17.5 horsepower electric motors. There are 17,000 solar cells embedded in the wing.

Piccard is no stranger to flying around the world. In 1999 he flew around the world in a balloon flight lasting almost 20 days.

After landing in India, Solar Impulse 2 will fly on to Myanamar.

In Boston, Nick Barber, IDG News Service.