World's first solar-powered aircraft to land in Varanasi

Varanasi: The world's only solar-powered aircraft 'Solar Impulse-2' will make a stop in Varanasi on Wednesday evening after hovering over river Ganga to spread the message of cleanliness and clean energy, as a part of its maiden global journey. The aircraft will land at the Lal Bahadur Shastri International airport in Varanasi.

Support crew assist pilot Andre Borschberg (C) as he sits in the cockpit of Solar Impulse 2, the world's only solar powered aircraftSupport crew push Solar Impulse 2, the world's only solar powered aircraft, before it takes off from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in the Indian city of Ahmedabad. Pic/AFP

"The plane took off today after a delay of two hours from its scheduled time from Ahmedabad. We are expecting it to reach at around 9pm, which is close to its earlier arrival schedule," said S K Malik, Director of Varanasi Airport. The plane will first hover over the Ganga to spread the message of cleanliness and clean energy and subsequently land at the airport, he said.

The district authorities had given the permission, which was sought in advance by the 'Solar Impulse-2' (SI-2) team, to the aircraft for carrying out aerial videography of the Ganga ghats (banks). "The permission for carrying out aerial videography of Ganga river along the ghats here has been granted to the SI-2," Additional District Magistrate Vindhyavasani Rai said.

Solar Impulse-2Support crew assist pilot Andre Borschberg (C) as he sits in the cockpit of Solar Impulse 2, the world's only solar powered aircraft. Pic/AFP

"We are all prepared to give a warm welcome to Andre Borschberg, the project's co-founder and pilot, along with its co-pilot as well as project President Bertrand Piccard at the airport here," said Malik.

The aircraft today took off for Varanasi from Ahmedabad after a week's stopover in the city as part of its round-the-world trip. The 'no-fuel', purely solar-powered aircraft was earlier scheduled to fly at 5.30 AM and reach Varanasi around 8.30 PM. Swiss pilot Piccard had flown the plane from Muscat to Ahmedabad, while Borschberg is flying it to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

The SI-2 is scheduled to fly to Mandalay in Myanmar from here tomorrow morning, Chongqing and Nanjing in China and thereafter to the US.

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