The Swiss solar aircraft Solar Impulse 2 landed in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday after more than 18 hours in the air. This marks the successful completion of the eleventh stage of its round-the-world flight.
The plane piloted by Bertrand Piccard took off from Phoenix, Arizona, at around 3am local time (around noon Swiss time) on Thursday and landed in Tulsa at 11:15pm local time.
Oklahoma was initially not on the team’s radar as it is known for its tornado potential. The plan was to fly to Kansas, Missouri, but this was aborted because of difficult weather conditions over the plains of Kansas state.
The Solar Impulse team referred to Tulsa as a symbolic pit stop for the plane as it lies at the heart of the iconic American highway Route 66. The flight from Phoenix to Tulsa marks the third flight for the solar plane this year. It was stranded in Hawaii for around nine months due to overheating batteries as a result of its record-breaking five-day flight over the Pacific Ocean.
"The aim is to rally New York as soon as possible," said the Solar Impulse 2 team in a statement on Wednesday. The solar plane has one or two more stops to go before reaching New York. After New York, the plane will attempt to cross the Atlantic to land on the Mediterranean coast before reaching its final destination, Abu Dhabi.
In March 2015, the single-seat aircraft began its voyage in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and has made stops in Oman, India, Myanmar, China and Japan.
swissinfo.ch and agencies