The “man for the job” is Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, a 54-year-old psychiatrist and balloonist, who will be taking his plane from Madrid to Rabat, Morocco. The project couldn’t have had a better person in charge, because he is also the man co-responsible for the first round-the-clock and round-the-world balloon flight in 1999.
And mind you, this plane was also used two years ago to undertake a manned 24-hour trip on solar power.
This time, Piccard took on a new challenge: landing the carbon-fibre Solar Impulse plane on the Rabat-Sale airport around 11 pm (2200 GMT) on Tuesday, after crossing the Gibraltar Strait at 8,500 metres (28,000 feet).
The trip started out at the Madrid-Barajas airport at 5:22 AM (0322 GMT); it left behind the Spanish capital to reach 3,600 metres (11,800 feet) towards Seville in the south before resting in the African country a little before midnight and after having covered 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles).
Apparently, the date of the trip wasn’t randomly chosen: it was to be on the same day as the largest solar thermal plant in the Moroccan region Ouarzazate started its construction. However, the “real” trip is planned for a couple of years from now, when the plane is set to circle the world. You have to admit: that’s at least a tiny bit exciting!