The sun-powered experimental aircraft Solar Impulse HB-SIA has returned to its base in Payerne, Switzerland, following the completion of its historic maiden transcontinental flight.
Following its debut solar international voyage from Paris to Brussels in June 2011, the aircraft travelled 6,000km from Europe to North Africa using no fuel launching on 24 May.
Solar Impulse CEO Andre Borschberg said: "It's been an extraordinary adventure not only for what we've achieved with this aeroplane, originally only designed to demonstrate the possibility of flying day and night with a purely solar energy, but also for what has resulted in a tightly fused team, confident in the project and in their capacity to make it happen."
During the test flight, the Solar Impulse flew to Madrid, Spain; Rabat, Malta; Ouarzazate, Morocco; and Toulouse, France prior to its arrival in Switzerland.
Solar Impulse is a single-seat experimental solar-powered aircraft that is powered by 12,000 solar cells across its large wings and rotates four electrical motors. The aircraft weighs as much as an average family car.
The 400kg lithium polymer batteries are charged by motors during the day, enabling the aircraft to continue flight during night.
Solar Impulse HB-SIA has recorded the longest flight by a manned solar-powered aeroplane after a 26 hour, 10 minute and 19 seconds stay in the air above Switzerland, along with a record for flying at 9,235m (30,298ft).
The overall 6,000km journey has been viewed as a rehearsal for HB-SIA's around-the-world flight planned for 2014.
Image: With a projected cost of almost £6.5m over a ten year period, the Solar Impulse project started in 2003. Photo: courtesy of Matth1.