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Solar airplane heads to Egypt from Spain on round-the-world trip

By Allen Cone
Solar Impulse, piloted by André Borschberg, is pictured flying over the Torresol Energy’s Gemasolar Thermosolar Plant in Spain on July 11, 2016. Photo courtesy of Solar Impulse
Solar Impulse, piloted by André Borschberg, is pictured flying over the Torresol Energy’s Gemasolar Thermosolar Plant in Spain on July 11, 2016. Photo courtesy of Solar Impulse

SEVILLE, Spain, July 11 (UPI) -- Solar Impulse 2 took off from Seville on Monday morning and is headed to Cairo in the next-to-last flight on its worldwide journey.

Andre Borschberg was in the pilot's seat of the single-person solar-powered airplane.

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The plane, in its latest leg, will fly over Tunisia, Algeria, Malta, Italy and Greece before landing in Egypt. It will take between 48 and 72 hours, depending on weather conditions.

The trip began will end in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, where it began in March 2015.

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Last month, Bertrand Piccard flew the craft 71 hours over the Atlantic Ocean from New York.

The longest trip was 118 hours by Borschberg across the Pacific Ocean, from Nagoya, Japan to Hawaii.

Solar Impulse 2, which is powered by 17,000 solar cells, has a 232-foot wingspan, which is longer than a Boeing 747, and weighs about as much as an automobile.

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"It's meaningful obviously because it's my last flight in this round-the-world epic," Borschberg said before taking off Monday. "I've started to think about it. I'm happy that we get close to the end but also prudent knowing that it is not done yet. I have to stay really focused."

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Borschberg is an engineer and fighter pilot, and Piccard is a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry who made the first non-stop, round-the-world balloon flight, according to the Solar Impulse 2 website.

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