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Historic round-the-world flight showcases clean energy

July 15,2016 21:20

Nearly 500 years ago, an expedition started by explorer Ferdinand Magellan sailed entirely around the world for the first time, using only the power of wind. Now, a pair of Swiss adventurers and pilots are about to complete humanity's first round-the ...and more »

Andre Borschberg, pilot of the Solar Impulse plane that is attempting to fly around the world using only solar energy, tells USA TODAY how the flight has applications for many other industries.
Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAYNearly 500 years ago, an expedition started by explorer Ferdinand Magellan sailed entirely around the world for the first time, using only the power of wind.Now, a pair of Swiss adventurers and pilots are about to complete humanity's first round-the-world voyage in a plane powered only by the sun.Yet, for the pilots of the Solar Impulse 2, about to embark on its final leg from Cairo to Abu Dhabi, the trip has always been more about showcasing the potential of solar energy than setting aviation records.Pilots Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, who've alternated manning the flights around the world, want to raise awareness about climate change, showing what can be done using nothing but renewable energy."The most important thing isn't to make world records," Piccard said last year. "It's to show what we can do with clean technologies," he said, ones that could simultaneously reduce carbon dioxide emissions and stimulate economic growth.The Solar Impulse 2 plane and flight is a "technology demonstrator," said Bob Van der Linden, the curator of aeronautics at the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum. "It was never intended to be a pioneering plane." It's intent instead, he said, was to advance the science and technology of solar power.Van der Linden said many of the other first round-the-world flights were more about aviation records. These included the first round-the-world flight by Army Air Service pilots in 1924, the first non-stop flight by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager in 1986, the first non-stop balloon flight in 1999 by Piccard and Brian Jones and the first solo non-stop flight in 2005 by Steve Fossett.He said the Solar Impulse 2 round-the-world solar-powered flight is not a record aeronauts long sought, unlike these others.And there really aren't any more aviation records left, he added. The prime time for records was the 1920s and 30s, when aviation was in its infancy and aviation technology exploded between the world wars.Still, Van der Linden said the Solar Impulse flight reminds people of the age of discovery and the great explorers such as Magellan centuries ago."By focusing the attention on the flight, they succeeded in that," he said.Replay1 of 582 of 583 of 584 of 585 of 586 of 587 of 588 of 589 of 5810 of 5811 of 5812 of 5813 of 5814 of 5815 of 5816 of 5817 of 5818 of 5819 of 5820 of 5821 of 5822 of 5823 of 5824 of 5825 of 5826 of 5827 of 5828 of 5829 of 5830 of 5831 of 5832 of 5833 of 5834 of 5835 of 5836 of 5837 of 5838 of 5839 of 5840 of 5841 of 5842 of 5843 of 5844 of 5845 of 5846 of 5847 of 5848 of 5849 of 5850 of 5851 of 5852 of 5853 of 5854 of 5855 of 5856 of 5857 of 5858 of 58AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsRead or Share this story: http://usat.ly/29I8OmZ

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