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Solar Impulse 2 Completes Historic Global Flight

Solar Impulse 2 Completes Historic Global FlightSolar Impulse 2 Completes Historic Global Flight

The solar-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 completed its historic flight around the world early Tuesday, as it touched down in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

The experimental craft was the first entirely solar-powered plane to fly around the world, taking 16 months—and 17 stages—to complete the journey.

Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard began his trip in March 2015 on the same runway in the UAE where he landed with much fanfare on Tuesday.

Piccard gave a thumbs-up and said, "We made it! We made it! All together, we did it!" just after landing, according to UPI.

He alternated piloting duties with Andre Borschberg each leg of the journey, with Borschberg taking the next to last stage that ended in Cairo, Egypt, on July 13.

Piccard took the last leg from Cairo Sunday morning.

After working on the project for more than a decade, the two had originally planned to complete the trip last year, but bad weather and battery damage ultimately grounded the plane for 10 months.

The plane's wingspan is as long as a Boeing 747 and covered in 17,000 solar cells. Inside the tiny cockpit, the ride can be bumpy and the pilot must be hooked to an oxygen tank at high altitudes and is only allowed to sleep 20 minutes at a time.

The pilots have been promoting the aircraft, which is made of ultra-light materials, as a symbol of options for alternative energy to stave off global warming.

Piccard said that he wants Solar Impulse to revive interest in promoting clean technology.

“When you speak of climate change, it is so boring for everybody,” Piccard said in an interview with Bloomberg. “Everybody knows it is a disaster, so why continuously repeat it? Now you have to give hope to people with real solutions, and they exist.

"My hope is that people finally make a list of solutions rather than a list of problems.”