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PHOTOS: Experimental Solar Plane Flies Over Egypt's Giza Pyramids

Solar Impulse 2, the solar powered plane, flies above Giza Pyramids as it finishes its penultimate flight, landing in Egypt on Wednesday.
Anadolu Agency
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Solar Impulse 2, the solar powered plane, flies above Giza Pyramids as it finishes its penultimate flight, landing in Egypt on Wednesday.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

The journey from Seville, Spain lasted 48 hours and 50 minutes, the team says. "In one flight, the new world of clean technology met the ancient world," they said in a statement. Here's why:

"This flight began with a flyover of the GemaSolar power plant in Spain, the first power plant to have found a way to produce energy day and night, and ended up embedded in Egypt's ancient world."

The solar plane's co-pilot Bertrand Piccard points out that ancient Egyptians worshipped Ra, the sun god. "We worship the [sun] too!" he said.

Piccard and his co-pilot Andre Borschberg switch off legs of the journey – and this was Borschberg's final time at the controls. Piccard is set to pilot the last leg of the round-the-world journey to Abu Dhabi, where the trip started.

In a tweet, as Borschberg was preparing for landing, he said "I'm tired but also feeling emotional about nearing the end." The Swiss pilot took comfort in some Swiss cheese mid-flight.

The two pilots hugged as Piccard greeted Borschberg after he landed. Borschberg later reflected on some of the highlights:

"For me, it's the end of this flight around the world as a pilot. I had the chance to do so many exploration flights such as the first day and night (26 hour flight with Solar Impulse 1), the first mission flight across Switzerland, the first international flight, and the longest solo endurance flight, lasting 5 days and nights over the Pacific Ocean."

The team posted a video recap of this leg of the flight:

As we've reported, "Solar Impulse 2 has the wingspan of a jetliner and the weight of a minivan. It uses 17,000 solar cells to generate power — some of which is stored in lithium-ion batteries that help the plane stay aloft overnight."

The team is aiming to raise awareness about clean energy. We'll keep you posted about the final leg of the journey.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy
Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.