Solar plane pilots urge India to support clean energy drive

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Ahmadabad: The pilots of a solar-powered airplane on a historic round-the-world journey said Wednesday that they want the people of India to support their campaign for clean energy to save the global environment.

Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg spoke to reporters in the western Indian city of Ahmadabad a day after Piccard flew the single-seat plane there from Muscat, Oman.

Piccard said their goal was to spread the message of adopting clean technologies and improving the quality of life of India’s 1.2 billion people.He said they chose to demonstrate this with a solar-powered airplane “because this is what captures the imagination of people.”

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The fuel-free aircraft, called the Solar Impulse 2, is powered by more than 17,000 solar cells on its wings that recharge the plane’s batteries, enabling it to fly.

The round-the-world trip began Monday in Abu Dhabi, with Borschberg piloting the first leg of the trip.“It was an incredible experience,” Borschberg told reporters at a temporary hangar at Ahmadabad’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel international airport, where the plane remains parked.

Borschberg said he practiced yoga to prepare himself for the rigors of flying solo for long hours during the trip.For the second leg, from Muscat to Ahmadabad, Piccard was at the controls of the aircraft.

Piccard said flying to India was a long-cherished dream. “Sixteen years ago, I flew around the world nonstop in a balloon and I flew over India. Today, I am very happy to be back,” he said.

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