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Solar Impulse-2 plane takes off after night stop in Varanasi

Varanasi:The world's only 'no-fuel' solar- powered aircraft 'Solar Impulse-2' today took off for Myanmar from Varanasi after overnight stopover, ending its week-long journey in India as part of the round-the-world trip. The aircraft took off at around 5:22 AM from Varanasi airport and is being flown by co-pilot as well as project President Bertrand Piccard. The Solar Impulse-2 is currently flying the fourth leg. The Aircraft made a night stop in Varanasi for nearly 8 hours. The CEO and pilot of Solar Impulse, Andre Borschberg, had flown the solar-powered aircraft to Varanasi from Ahmedabad. The aircraft touched down at the Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport at Babatpur yesterday shortly after 8:30 PM, completing an over 13 hour-long journey from Ahmedabad, where the plane and the crew had a week's stopover. The aircraft maintained a minimum altitude of around 5,200 metres on its flight to Varanasi. The plane reached Ahmedabad on March 10 and was stationed for six days there before arriving in Varanasi. The aircraft began its journey on March 9 from Abu Dhabi. Swiss co-pilot Bertrand Piccard had flown the plane from Muscat to Ahmedabad whereas Borschberg had flown the aircraft to Varanasi from Ahmedabad. Solar Impulse is claimed to be the first aircraft to fly day and night without a drop of fuel, propelled solely by the sun's energy. The single-seater aircraft, made of carbon fibre, has a 72 meter wingspan, larger than that of Boeing-747 and weighs only 2,300 kg. The 17,248 solar cells on the wing recharge four lithium polymer batteries weighing 633 kg each, which allow the aircraft to fly at night. The SI-2 from Mandalay in Myanmar is scheduled to reach Chongqing and Nanjing in China and thereafter to USA. Meanwhile, Swiss ambassador to India Linus Von Castelmur said the solar-powered aircraft 'Solar Impulse-2' wanted to fly over the Ganga ghats and have a helicopter alongside to shoot images of it and the ghats but was denied permissions due to security reasons. "We didn't get permits to have helicopter flying over the airports and the ghats. It was the central government's decision. It's once again a pity but sometimes bureaucrats are not very open minded," the swiss ambassador told a TV news channel, adding that it made him "sad". However, when contacted, Additional District Magistrate (City) Vindhyavasini Rai said, "The permission sought in advance for aerial videography of Ganga ghats by the Solar Impulse-2 team was granted by the district authorities." PTI

Updated : 19 March 2015 5:59 AM GMT
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