Mon, Jul 18, 2016 - Page 4 News List

‘Solar Impulse 2’ journey final leg delayed by illness

AFP, CAIRO

The final leg of an unprecedented world tour by a solar-powered airplane was on Saturday postponed due to the pilot’s health, he said in a message on Twitter.

The Solar Impulse 2 had been scheduled to leave Cairo for Abu Dhabi.

“I’m sick. Stomach upset. I prefer to postpone the take-off @solarimpulse. I cannot go flying for 48 hours in that shape. Sorry,” Bertrand Piccard wrote on Twitter.

The aircraft had arrived in Cairo on Wednesday last week after a two-day flight from Spain, finishing the 3,745km journey at an average speed of 76.7kph.

It had earlier landed in Seville, Spain, after completing the first solo transatlantic flight powered only by sunlight, flying through the night with energy stored in its 17,000 photovoltaic cells.

Piccard completed the 6,765km transatlantic flight in 71 hours.

The aircraft is being flown on its 35,400km trip in stages, with Piccard and Swiss compatriot Andre Borschberg taking turns flying the single-seat airplane.

“So Piccard was not feeling well yesterday. Was much better this morning. And then again tonight things got a bit worse. So we took the decision... It’s not an easy decision, but it’s a wise decision for safety reasons,” Borschberg told journalists who had assembled to watch the airplane take off in Cairo.

The airplane should depart during “the next weather window,” he said. “Sometime in the middle of the week.”

Borschberg had piloted the airplane in its 8,924km flight from Japan to Hawaii in 118 hours, breaking the previous record for the longest uninterrupted journey in aviation history.

The Solar Impulse 2 embarked on its journey in Abu Dhabi in March last year.

Both pilots have described flying the airplane as a delight, but they have to be in good condition for the long flights.

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