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Environment

Pyramids and Lady Liberty: Solar Plane Circles the Globe

A look back at Solar Impulse's round-the-world flight powered solely by the sun's energy.

 / Updated 15 PHOTOS
Image: The Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane, flies over the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

The world's first round-the-world flight to be powered solely by the sun's energy made history on July 26, 2016, as it landed in Abu Dhabi, where it first took off on an epic 25,000-mile journey that began more than a year ago.

ABOVE: Solar Impulse 2 flies over the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi during preparations for its round-the-world flight on Feb. 26, 2015.

Jean Revillard / Solar Impulse via Reuters
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Image: A view of the Solar Impulse 2 on flight after taking off from Al Bateen Airport in United Arab Emirates

Solar Impulse 2 begins its round-the-world journey as it takes off from Al Bateen Airport in Abu Dhabi on March 9, 2015. 

Since its take-off, the plane has made 16 stops across the world without using a drop of fuel. 

Jean Revillard / Solar Impulse via Reuters
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Pilot Bertrand Picard took this photo from the cockpit of the Solar Impulse during the second leg from Muscat, Oman, to Ahmedabad, India, on March 10, 2015.

The aircraft is uniquely powered by 17,248 solar cells that transfer energy to four electrical motors that power the plane's propellers.

Bertrand Picard / Solar Impulse
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Solar Impulse takes-off from Varanasi, India, on its way to Mandalay, Myanmar, on March 18, 2015.

The plane's wingspan stretches 236 feet to catch the sun's energy.

Stefatou / Solar Impulse
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Solar Impulse 2 takes-off from Mandalay to Chongqing, China, with Bertrand Piccard at the controls on March 30, 2015.

Solar Impulse | Stefatou | Rezo.
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Solar Impulse 2 departs Hawaii on its way to San Francisco on April 21, 2016.

The pilots faced a nine-month delay after the plane's batteries were damaged during a flight from Japan to Hawaii.

Jean Revillard / Solar Impulse
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Image: "Solar Impulse 2", a solar-powered plane piloted by Bertrand Piccard of Switzerland, flies over the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco

Solar Impulse 2 flies over the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco on April 23, 2016, before landing at Moffett Airfield following a 62-hour flight from Hawaii.

Jean Revillard / Solar Impulse via Reuters
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Image: Solar Impulse takeoff from Phoenix Goodyear, Arizona, United States of America

Solar Impulse 2 takes off from Phoenix Goodyear Airport on its way to Tulsa International Airport on May 12, 2016.

Jean Revillard / Solar Impulse via Reuters
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Pilot Bertrand Piccard shot this photo over Holbrook, Arizona, on May 12, 2016.

The carbon-fiber plane is a single-seater aircraft, meaning its two Swiss pilots — Piccard and Andre Borschberg— had to take turns flying solo for long days and nights. 

Bertrand Piccard / Solar Impulse
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Image: Solar Impulse takeoff from Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Solar Impulse 2 prepares for take-off on May 21 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

At around 5,070 pounds, the plane weighs about as much as a minivan or mid-sized truck.

Solar Impulse
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Image: Solar Impulse 2, the solar airplane, piloted by Swiss adventurer Andre Borschberg, flies over the Statue of Libery in in New York, shortly before landing at John F. Kennedy airport

Solar Impulse 2 flies over the Statue of Libery in New York on June 11 shortly before landing at John F. Kennedy Airport.

Jean Revillard / Solar Impulse via Reuters
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Image: Solar Impulse 2, the solar powered plane, piloted by Swiss pioneer Andre Borschberg is seen during the flyover of the pyramids of Giza on July 13, 2016 prior to the landing in Cairo

Solar Impulse 2 flies over the pyramids of Giza on July 13 before landing in Cairo.

Jean Revillard / Solar Impulse via Reuters
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Image: Solar Impulse 2 Completes Circumnavigation of the Earth

Solar Impulse 2 flies over the Red Sea on July 23 during the last leg of its round-the-world trip before landing in Abu Dhabi.

Bertrand Piccard / Solar Impulse
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Image: Selfie picture shows Swiss pioneer Bertrand Piccard during the last leg of the round the world trip with Solar Impulse 2 over the Arab peninsula

Pilot Bertrand Piccard uses a selfie stick to take a photo over the Arabian Peninsula on July 25.

Bertrand Piccard / Reuters
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Image: Solar Impulse 2, the solar powered plane, piloted by Swiss pioneer Bertrand Piccard, is seen before landing in Abu Dhabi to finish the first around the world flight without the use of fuel

Solar Impulse 2 prepares to land in Abu Dhabi to finish the first around-the-world flight without the use of fuel on July 26, 2016.

Jean Revillard / Solar Impulse via Reuters
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